THE Department of Agriculture (DA) is gearing up for the crafting of the 10-year Fishery and Aquatic Development Roadmap seen to set the needs and priorities of the industry.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, in his Facebook post Thursday, said the DA is set to convene stakeholders next month.
Piñol said the roadmap, which he proposed during the opening ceremonies of the 19th Tuna Festival in General Santos City Wednesday, will identify industry problems and challenges as well as corresponding government interventions.
“While the Philippines ranks first among the countries in the world with the longest coastal lines at 39,284 kilometers, it still continues to import fisheries and aquatic products to fill the needs of the local market,” he added.
The Agriculture chief cited the depletion of freshwater fish sources due to overfishing and destructive fishing practices as among the biggest problems confronting the industry today.
It results in added pressure on the traditional fishing grounds in the coastal areas because of the need of people for more protein, Piñol said.
He also pointed out that the country is losing about P3 trillion every year due to illegal fishing, including poaching by foreign and more modern fishing fleets.
Moreover, the 10-year roadmap is seen to also institutionalize the Malinis at Masaganang Karagatan (MMK) program of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), which provides recognition to the cleanest coastal communities.
Among other programs to get boost through the development plan include the Balik Sigla sa Ilog at Lawa (Basil) project and fiberglass boats distribution program.
The roadmap will also identify the rich fishing grounds of the country and establish post-harvest facilities like ice plants and cold storage, which are now absent in many areas resulting in losses of about 40 percent of the fishermen's catch, Piñol said.
During the convention, stakeholders will be asked for their inputs on what should be done to protect the country's fishing interests in the West Philippine Sea and the Philippine Rise, two of the richest fishing grounds where illegal fishing operations are ongoing.
Piñol further said that 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.
“When the 10-year roadmap for fisheries and aquatic marine sector is completed, this will be submitted to the President just like the other development plans for other commodities like coffee, cacao, mango, and abaca, among others," he added.