Fishpond operators urged to improve leased area

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Sunday, December 22, 2013

THE issuance of the Fisheries Administrative Order (FAO) 197-1, series of 2012 is expected to address problems relating to climate change by requiring fishpond operators to environmentally improve their leased area, an official said.

The FAO took effect in January 2013, with the Department of Agriculture, as implementing agency, through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR). It covers fishpond operators who entered into Fishpond Lease Agreement (FLA) or Aquasilviculture Stewardship Contract (ASC) with the government. This is also a product of the review of FAO 197 series of 2000.

"Because we had the review we saw some provisions that needed to be changed to be attuned to the needs of the times. Today, we can observe that there is climate change, which is affecting the industry and one of its best characteristics is, it is environmentally friendly," BFAR central office legal officer lawyer Demosthenes R. Escoto told reporters at the sidelines of BFAR-Davao’s consultation with FLA and ASC holders at the Pinnacle Hotel and Suites on Thursday.

Section 26 of the FAO provides terms and conditions to the contracting party and lessee that mandate them to improve their leased are. One of these conditions is that 180 days from the date of issuance of the ASC or FLA to fishpond operators, they must start utilizing the area for mangrove-friendly aquaculture and have to introduce improvements in the area.

It is also mentioned that the contracting party or lessee will undertake reforestation in river banks, bays, streams, and seashore fronting the ASC or FLA area to at least fifty meters strip.

Failure to do the required terms and conditions will be grounds for cancellation of the contract or lease.

Aside from being pro-environment, FAO will also help increase the production of aquaculture products because the contracting parties or the lessee are expected to increase their productivity.

For instance, aqua culturists who are in the FLA and ASC are required by the FAO to have a production of at least 1,000 kilos per hectare (kg/ha) and the production has to increase in the following years.

"Taking into consideration the targets as required by the FAO, we can have a good direction towards food sufficiency," Escoto said.

He also said they are advocating for the intensive use of the fishpond and its surrounding like the target production per hectares.

"Otherwise, the contracting party will be declared unproductive or underproductive and it is one of the grounds for the cancellation of the FLA or ASC," Escoto said.

Last December 19, the regional office of BFAR held consultations with FLA and ASC holders at the Pinnacle Hotel and Suites for them to be aware of their obligations and limitations as mandated by the FAO and the new provisions of the FAO.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on December 23, 2013.


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