Fishery roadmap seen to benefit NegOcc fisherfolk

Erwin P. Nicavera

THE 10-year Fishery and Aquatic Development Roadmap to be crafted by the Department of Agriculture (DA) is seen to benefit fisherfolk in Negros Occidental, a Capitol official said.

Provincial Agriculturist Japhet Masculino said over the weekend the long-term development plan would equip the province in identifying the problems and challenges in the local fishery sector.

He said the National Government, through the roadmap, is hoped to provide more appropriate interventions that could help small fishermen in the province improve their livelihood.

“We are optimistic that this roadmap would help develop the fishery industry of the province through the provision of modern technologies and machineries to our fisherfolk,” Masculino said, adding that the fishing sector like that of livestock and crops is vital in ensuring food security.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said in a Facebook post that the DA is gearing up for the crafting of the roadmap, which will set the needs and priorities of the industry as well as provide necessary measures to address identified challenges.

The DA is set to convene stakeholders next month, Piñol said, adding that once completed, it will be submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte just like the other development plans for other commodities like coffee, cacao, mango, and abaca, among others.

“Other aqua-marine potentials will also be identified and the small fishermen will be assisted by government in an attempt to address poverty in the sector," Piñol said.

Masculino agreed with Piñol’s observation that the depletion of freshwater fish sources due to overfishing and destructive fishing practices are among the biggest problems confronting the fishery sector today.

In Negros Occidental, Masculino said there are still reported cases of illegal fishing especially those by commercial operators.

This was raised during the Regionwide Agri-Fishery Consultative Assembly held at the Planta Hotel in Bacolod City in July.

Participating fisherfolk asked the assistance of the DA for stricter monitoring and apprehension of illegal fishing operators.

They claimed that rampant operations of big fishing boats in the municipal waters are adversely affecting their livelihood.

"Through this roadmap, we also hope to further address this problem affecting the lives of our small fishing community," Masculino added.

Piñol reported that the country is losing about P3 trillion every year due to illegal fishing, including poaching by foreign and more modern fishing fleets.

Also, the absence of post-harvest facilities like ice plants and cold storage in many areas in the country results to losses of about 40 percent of the fishermen's catch, he added.