Tuesday, February 9, 2016

BFAR building new boats vs illegal fishing, more fish ports nationwide
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 5 (PNA) -– The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) is building this year two new floating assets against illegal fishing and establishing 252 Community Fish Landing Centers (CFLC) in strategic areas nationwide to improve the socio-economic condition of fisherfolk communities with high poverty incidence.

In a statement reaching here Friday, BFAR said its new floating assets will be composed of two units of steel-hulled offshore vessels whose constructions are underway after its recent launching through the ceremonial laying of keels in Navotas City graced by Department of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and National Coast Watch Center Undersecretary Jose Luis Alano.

At present, BFAR has only one multi-mission vessel, the MV-BFAR (DYCA), which will soon be joined by these two new 50.5-meter vessels to be part of DA-BFAR’s inventory of floating assets intended to guard Philippine waters against illicit fishing practices.

“This momentous event indicates government’s serious commitment for inclusive growth and poverty alleviation in all sectors, particularly agriculture and fisheries sectors, as we further intensify the country’s stance against illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing,” Alcala said during the launching ceremonies as quoted by the statement.

It said that the multi-mission vessels, which will stretch half-a-meter larger than an Olympic-size swimming pool but 9.5 meters smaller than DYCA, are the first-ever of their kind to be constructed in the Philippines.

The vessel design was done by the US-based IncatCrowther, a reputable ship designer.

All plans, drawings, and calculations, meanwhile, are in accordance with the rules of the internationally acclaimed Bureau Veritas Classification Society known for its expertise in Testing, Inspection, and Certification (TIC), according to the BFAR statement.

The vessel construction is made possible through the collaborative efforts of the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), DA-BFAR, Philippine Coast Guard and Philippine Navy.

Each vessel costs around Php178.5 million and will be built within 18 months at Josefa Slipways Inc., a medium category local shipyard in Navotas City.

The project commences almost a year after the enactment of the amendments to the Philippine Fisheries Code, which mandates an integrated approach on fisheries management comprised of a Monitoring, Control, and Surveillance (MCS) Program to curb and deter IUU fishing practices.

Aside from fighting destructive forms of fishing, the vessels will also be utilized for other purposes such as seaborne research activities and calamity response.

With the construction of these assets, the Philippines, as a member country of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, can now also fulfill its commitment to conduct MCS activities in distant waters such as the High Seas Pocket Number 1, a tuna-rich fishing ground, as well as augment its existing capacity to operate at the West Philippine Sea and other non-traditional fishing grounds, according to BFAR.

The CFLC projects, which are under BFAR’s umbrella program Targeted Actions to Reduce Poverty and Generate Economic Transformation, on the other hand, were earlier launched in Tanza, Cavite.

These projects that target to reduce fisheries post-harvest losses from 25 percent to 18 percent or even lower, according to Alcala, is part of the government’s commitment to deliver precise interventions and promote inclusive growth in the fishery sector.

Each of the 252 CFLCs costs Php2.9 million and will house post-harvest equipment and tools that will enable fisherfolk to preserve the good quality of their fish and fishery products and sell them for a higher price.

Local consumers, Alcala said, will also benefit from the fish landing centers as they will have better access to safe and quality fishery commodities.

The facilities will also be opened as venues for skills training on disaster-resilient fisheries-based livelihood and resource management such as monitoring fish catch and stock assessment.

BFAR National Director Asis G. Perez said the bureau made use of its own fisherfolk database and the Registry System for Basic Sector in Agriculture of the Department of Budget and Management with the assistance of the National Anti-Poverty Commission in determining the sites where the CFLCS will be established.

Based on NAPC’s recommendation, the areas were assessed based on poverty incidence, municipal density, fish production, number of registered fisherfolk and number of existing fish ports and fish landing areas.

Upon completion, Perez said, the CFLCs will be operated by the local government units and later on by fisherfolk cooperatives.

At present, the country only has eight regional fish ports located in the cities of Navotas, Iloilo, Zamboanga, Lucena, Davao, General Santos and in the municipalities of Camaligan (Camarines Sur) and Sual (Pangasinan), according to BFAR records.

The same records also show that there are 17 city/municipal fish ports across the country, six of them in Bicol particularly in this city and Tabaco City, both of Albay province; Mercedes, Camarines Norte; and Bulan, Castilla and Pilar, all in Sorsogon.

A source from the BFAR regional office based in Pili, Camarines Sur said that so far, they still do not have an idea as to where in the region will these new fish ports be established even as assurance from the central office has been made that there will be some, given that the Bicol Peninsula is surrounded by rich fishing grounds.

The establishment of these new fish ports, BFAR said, is also part of the Philippine government’s commitment to various international cooperation concerning fisheries management and development. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/cbd