TACLOBAN CITY – Four fisherfolk associations in Leyte and Northern Samar provinces are recipients of over PHP3.2 million worth of deep-sea nets and fish aggregating devices from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

Funded under the Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) Phase II program, the fishing gears provide viable and immediate assistance to the associations, said BFAR 8 (Eastern Visayas) regional director Hannibal Chavez on Tuesday.

“Prior to the distribution, we held training sessions on the installation, maintenance, and operations to ensure that this livelihood assistance will be properly and sustainably used by the beneficiaries,” Chavez told the Philippine New Agency in a phone interview.

The BFAR released the aid in a ceremonial ceremony conducted on various dates last month.

Recipients of the deep-sea nets are the Monbon Fish Dealers and Vendors Association in Palapag town, Lapinig Fisherfolk Association in Lapinig town, and the Baybay SAAD Fisherfolk Association in Gamay town.

Each of these associations based in Northern Samar received four units of fish aggregating devices worth PHP200,000, capitalizing on the abundant and strategic tuna fishing areas in their respective communities.

This initiative is projected to boost the income of each association by 40 to 50 percent, promising a substantial positive impact on their lives and the local economy, Chavez said.

“To ensure fairness and development, the fisherfolk associations have devised an equitable income-sharing scheme where 60 percent of the earnings will be divided equally among the members, while the remaining 40 percent will be allocated towards the overall development of their respective associations,” he said.

Another beneficiary is the Union Fishermen’s Association, with 43 registered fisherfolk, of Mayorga, Leyte. The group received some PHP2.4 million worth of assistance, including deep-sea nets, a 30-footer fiberglass boat with complete accessories, a 16 HP marine engine, and a digital weighing scale.

With this aid, the fishers’ group and BFAR are eyeing a minimum fish catch of 400 kilograms and a maximum of 1,500 kilograms yield per month.

The project is part of the PHP87 million SAAD budget this year intended for 60 poor towns in the Eastern Visayas region.

The second phase of implementation will focus on towns belonging to the 5th and 6th income class, guided by four core components --social preparation, food production and livelihood, marketing assistance and enterprise development, and program management.

The six-year project prioritizing marginalized rural farming and fishing communities in the country targets two essential services that advance the welfare of local agricultural development of the rural communities and the disadvantaged segment of the population.

Mandated to protect and promote food security, the SAAD acts as part of the Department of Agriculture’s actions in addressing the immediate challenge, including persistent poverty in rural areas and food insufficiency, by strengthening local food production through the provision of agriculture and fishery livelihood projects. (PNA)