THE Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in Western Visayas, along with various groups including the NGOs for Fisheries Reform (NFR), has presented to Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson the right fishing measure poised to address pressing "crisis" in the fishery industry.
BFAR-Western Visayas Regional Director Remia Aparri, who met with Lacson at the Provincial Capitol in Bacolod City yesterday, said they want to provide Lacson the "information" as the program was launched during the time of former governor Alfredo Marañon Jr.
Aparri said the governor has welcomed the idea of multi-sectoral partnership geared towards the sustainability of the fisheries.
"Since the program focuses on the southern Negros seas, the governor has asked if there will be similar projects for other areas in the province," she added.
In January this year, various sectors in Negros formed a partnership that will push for the concept of right fishing especially in the key biodiversity area of the island.
This multi-sectoral partnerships banner the Fish Right (FR) program of the United States Agency for International Development (USAid) and the BFAR along with a consortium of partners, mainly to develop southern Negros seas and boost support for fishing communities there.
USAid FR for Southern Negros Principal Investigator Ben Malayan, during the executive briefing at Bayawan City in Negros Oriental, earlier said the whole idea of right fishing is prompted by the recognition of the government that "we need to do something with how we fish not just why we fish."
Malayan said this makes a fishing scale to be sensitive to the limitations of the ability of the fish to replenish themselves.
“The main intention of the program is to save biodiversity and reverse the trends towards declining fisheries,” he said, stressing that what the partnership would want to address is the overall situation not just on a specific area where biodiversity and fishery are dwindling.
Based on the project brief, local fishery crisis is attributed to declining fish catch because of dwindling fish stocks, rising prices of fish products, and fewer people especially the poor are able to afford fish and able to acquire good income from fisheries.
In order to address these conditions, the program introduces ways to improve fish-based food and protein security through an ecosystem approach to fisheries management including “right-sizing” when catching fish.
“Right-sizing” can be achieved through better policies, better management, more alternative income opportunities for fishers and traders, better education and public awareness on fishery issues and opportunities, and stronger citizens' push and pressure for better fisheries.
In April, Marañon and Governor Roel Degamo of Negros Oriental signed a covenant supporting the development of the southern Negros seas.
For Frank Carbon, chief executive officer of Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI), the covenant mainly manifests the two provincial governments' commitment on improving the sea-based resources of Negros.
MBCCI and Negros Oriental Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nocci) form part of the project’s consortium of partners, which also include fishers, traders, concerned government agencies, private sector, civil society organizations like schools and media, and local government units (LGUs).
"The two provincial governments with the two business chambers along with the Siliman University as the focal institution, will now try to take a look at how to rehabilitate our sea biodiversity," Carbon said.
The BFAR in Region 6 official said the program is currently being implemented based on its work plan.
"They are now using the data they gathered for technical advise to the LGUs relative to the implementation of the FR program," Aparri said.
She added that "it is good that the new governor has welcomed the idea and supports the management of fishery resources of Negros."