The Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) has laid out its catch-up plan for the Philippine fisheries sector in a bid to help boost local production and minimize the need for fish importation this year.
The plan, which also aims to ensure fish sufficiency in the country, is a measure to address the projected annual deficit of the country’s food fish supply, which is estimated to be at 44 thousand metric tons this year. This is more than 1% short of what is needed to attain full sufficiency. In line with this, the Bureau recommends focusing on Innovation, Modernization and Intensification.
Part of the catch-up plan will involve modernizing the fishery sector. This will be achieved by improving the design and expanding the use of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) in strategic fishing areas in the country, mechanization of irrigation supply canals and provision of pond aeration to fish farms, and the development of a cold chain program in island municipalities to reduce post-harvest losses.
“Through the establishment of more fish aggregating devices for our fisherfolk and production of more seedstocks for the aquaculture sector, this catch-up plan seeks to unlock the hidden potentials of the Bureau, and more importantly, the fishery sector as a whole, in ensuring fish sufficiency in the country,” BFAR OIC-Director Nestor D. Domenden said.
The Bureau chief also leaned his directives towards the upgrading of the National Fish Broodstock Development Program to include not only bangus, but other high-value species such as siganids, snappers, pompano, groupers, and seabass. He also ordered the intensification of seed and fish fry production through the establishment of more hatcheries. The program aims to boost the local production of fingerlings, reduce the need for fry importation, and bring down the cost of aquaculture production. Meanwhile, the Bureau will also intensify its Balik Sigla sa Ilog at Lawa (BASIL) program where more communal bodies of water will be sustainably stocked with marketable fish species. The Bureau will also push to optimize the operationalization of mariculture parks all over the country.
Innovation in the fishery sector will also be prioritized through the promotion of urban aquaculture and unconventional production systems such as tanks, dams, small water impounding ponds, small farm reservoirs (SFR), and natural ground level or elevated fishponds, as well as enhancing aquaculture through the use of green energy.
The catch-up plan, which the DA-BFAR is set to implement this second semester of 2022, is aligned with the policy direction of the new administration, under the guidance of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. in his crucial role as the country’s Agriculture Secretary.