Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said that the DA and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), together with other stakeholders in the fisheries industry, have started the review process for the Comprehensive National Fisheries Industry Development Plan (CNFIDP).
According to the BFAR report, the CNFIDP was developed to provide the comprehensive framework for promoting the optimal development and long-term sustainability of benefits derived by the country from fisheries.
The CNFIDP provides strategic directions for the Philippine fisheries over the next 20 years, from 2006 to 2025. The priority projects under the CNFIDP have already been implemented during its first five-year medium-term period from 2006 to 2010. The BFAR said the agency and other industry players will review its targets for the next five years. The review of the CNFIDP will end by December this year.
One of the components of the CNFIDP that the BFAR is pushing is the development of aquaculture in the country.
According to the BFAR, the production budget for aquaculture in 2016 has reached about P700 million as compared to the P300 million allocated for marine and inland capture fisheries. The BFAR said this is a manifestation that the government is now trying to focus more on aquaculture production.
The agency said there is a need to improve aquaculture production to give leeway to the protection of the marine resources in the country. The BFAR said it will protect the country’s fisheries resources and, at the same time, ensure there is enough fisheries supply through aquaculture.
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that the value of the country’s aquaculture production in the second quarter of 2015 increased by 1.25 percent to P15.52 billion from P15.33 billion in the same period last year. The PSA said aquaculture accounted to 40.54 percent of the total fisheries output in the period of April to June 2015.
Aside from aquaculture development, the BFAR said the CNFIDP will also aim to improve the livelihood of the fishermen through access to better market.
For one, there is a surplus in the fisheries production in the Philippines. The BFAR said the total domestic requirement for fisheries in the country is 2.8 million metric tons (MMT). This is lower in comparison to the country’s total fisheries production, which is about 5 MMT, the agency said.
The BFAR said the improvement of the country’s fisheries resources and production should also entail market access for the farmers where they can sell their produce.
The Philippines is a net exporter of fish and fish products to other countries. PSA data showed that exports of fresh and processed fish reached $994.61 million last year.
The BFAR also earlier said it is pushing for the export of fish products to new markets, such as Russia and Shanghai.
The agency said other countries now view the Philippines as a sustainable source of fish and processed fish products due to the reforms rolled out by the government to prevent illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
The Philippine government amended Republic Act (RA) 8550, or the Philippine Fisheries Code, into RA 10654. Among its provisions is the implementation of closed seasons in Philippine waters to protect fishes during their spawning season.