Aquaculture for all

Confidence on Continued Growth of Fisheries Sector

Economics +1 more

PHILIPPINES - The Department of Agriculture(DA) remains confident that the fisheries sector will continue to grow this year and maintain its status as the worlds 8th largest fish-exporting country despite the spate of typhoons that battered Luzon in the last four months of 2009. 

Despite unforeseen calamities like last year's series of typhoons, the Department of Agriculture is optimistic that the fisheries subsector will continue to top other DA agencies in terms of growth performance.

This is the assessment of DA Secretary, Arthur Yap on the strength of the robust expansions in aquaculture, especially with the construction of additional mariculture parks all across the country.

In a report submitted by Malcolm Sarmiento Jr., the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) director said that he is expecting to break the 5 million metric ton production mark - a new milestone in fisheries production. In 2001, BFAR broke the 3m metric ton mark and the 4m metric ton mark in 2004.

"Aquaculture is expected to be this year's primary growth driver in the fisheries sector with production targeted at 10 to 12 per cent," Mr Sarmiento said. "Commercial fisheries is expected to grow at 4 per cent, and municipal fisheries by 4 per cent."

But Mr Sarmiento expressed concern over the possibility that fuel prices could again spike this year's production target, which could pull down growth targets especially for commercial and municipal fisheries.

Fuel accounts for 70 per cent of the operating costs of municipal and commercial fishing operations, he said.

Full-year municipal and commercial fisheries output growth slowed to 2.78 per cent and 2.19 per cent, respectively, from the 10.3 per cent and 5.57 per cent growth in 2007 due to reduced fishing operations arising from last year's series of fuel price increases, according to data from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS).

The fisheries subsector posted a 5.78 per cent production increase and contributed 25.82 per cent of the total agricultural output for 2008.

According to Mr Sarmiento, BFAR's main thrusts for this year centre on the intensive implementation of sustainable aquaculture and pro-poor programmes that would provide more fish for the table, generate more jobs and protect existing ones.

"Aquaculture will remain BFAR's main weapon to address the challenges of environmental degradation, climate change and the global financial crisis", he said.

However, he stressed that aquaculture development will not be pursued at the expense of the municipal and commercial fisheries sectors, whose growth and development remain at sustainable levels.

According to Mr Sarmiento, the main challenge in the face of the global financial crisis is how to protect existing jobs and create new ones. "I am confident that all our existing programmes and projects satisfy this basic yardstick of performance being advocated by Secretary Yap", he said.

"Our pro-poor thrusts this year will give preference to meeting the protein requirements of people living in upland settlements and blighted urban areas. These will be carried out under the FishFud short for Fish for Upland Dwellers Urban Aquaculture or the growing of fish in urban areas in plastic drums and concrete tanks. FishFud will be piloted in Bukidnon, while the urban aquaculture was already introduced in QC last year", he added.

Other priority programmes will include broodstock development and establishment of hatcheries for bangus, tilapia and other high-value species like grouper, sea bass, pangasius, and white shrimp; broadening of aquaculture base with the development and/ or introduction of new strains; massive seeding of major inland waters, tuna enhancement with the establishment of shallow-water payao or fish aggregating device; continued search for potential fishing ground; strengthening of law enforcement, implementation of Fish Ruler and other CRM initiatives; strict enforcement of HACCP regulations; promotion of energy and fuel conservation measures; and the development of adaptation strategies for climate change.

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