BAGUIO CITY -- The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) wants to boost the region’s fish production by initially forming the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (FARMC) in every province to guide the fisherfolk craft their plans and programs.
"FARMC will serve as a consultative body to the local government units (LGUs), especially in the areas where there are higher percentages of scarcity," said Milagros Morales, BFAR-Cordillera regional director at the sidelines of the Fisherfolk Assembly on Wednesday here.
Cordillera’s current fish production level is at 13 percent, which they hope to increase and attain fish sustainability.
BFAR records show that in 2017, Cordillera produced 1,151.12 metric tons (MT) of different kinds of freshwater fish. Ifugao recorded the highest production at 333.24 MT; Kalinga at 304.44 MT; Abra with 245.38 MT; Apayao harvested 155.59 MT; Benguet produced 105.40 MT; and Mountain Province with a minimal production of 7.07 MT.
She attributed the low production fish to the topography of the region – being a landlocked mountain region with limited areas for fish production. The Cordillera region does not have seas or oceans and is bounded by mountains with only rivers and dams as possible areas for fish production.
Morales said the assembly, attended by almost a thousand fisherfolk and stakeholders from the different provinces, was aimed at providing information, knowledge and skills on how to boost fish production.
“The assembly focused on aquaculture practices that will address the challenges of quality and safety in fisheries products and efforts to increase the overall sustainability and productivity of fish farming communities,” Morales said.
Morales said that during the fisherfolk assembly, it was learned that another factor that affects production is the fisherfolk’s lack of knowledge on possible areas for production, available technologies, as well as being disorganized.
"To address their weaknesses there is really a need to create the FARMC that will help them create guidelines in sustaining their production," she said.
Through the conduct of assemblies, Morales said they are getting inputs from different fisherfolk associations for inclusion in the plans and programs that would address the problem.
She also said the practice of untimely harvesting of fish products also contribute to the region’s low production, which when addressed would boost the fish supply in the Cordillera.
“What is happening right now is that our harvesting is much faster than the time we produce the fish," Morales said.
Cordillera, she said records 35 percent losses, due also to post-harvest facilities and practices.
“To address the losses of fish production which is at 35 percent, we will come up with an ice machine that will produce sufficient ice to maintain the freshness of the fish harvested until they reach the market,” she said.
Morales also said that through the FARMC, they are hoping to establish 18 more fish marts where fishes produced in the region can be brought by the fisherfolk and sold to the public.
She also said that at present, there are 25,000 registered fisherfolk in the region.
She said that such number reflects that the Cordillera is not just for vegetable production but venturing in aquaculture is a feasible source of livelihood.
Fish and rice production can go together using the technology on fish-rice culture aside from the possibility of having vertical fish production areas on vegetable farms, she added. (PNA)
Photo from Rappler