THE Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) is undertaking the necessary preparations to provide alternative livelihood to small-scale fishermen during the sardine close fishing season, scheduled to commence on November 15, 2023.

The BFAR regional office, in collaboration with the National Fisheries Development Center (NFDC), entered into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) for the National Shellfish Livelihood Project (NSLP).

BFAR Regional Director Al-zath Kunting said the project's formal launch took place last week in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay Province, just in time for the upcoming Sardine Closed Fishing Season.

Kunti said the primary objective of the NSLP is to provide an alternative source of income for small-scale fishermen, particularly during the Sardine Closed Fishing Season when their usual livelihoods are temporarily halted.

Kunting said they have selected six associations as beneficiaries of the project and these include the Purok Lugit Talaba Association from Ipil, the Baluno Coastal Development Association from Naga, the Abunda Small Fishing Association, the Sioton Fisherfolk Association, and the Punawan Fisherfolk Association from Mabuhay, all from the Zamboanga Sibugay Province.

Additionally, Kunting said the Purok 6 Female Planters Seaweeds Association from Zamboanga del Norte has been chosen as a recipient.

Kunting noted that the province of Zamboanga Sibugay is known as the Shellfish Capital of the Philippines.

Francisco Reyes Jr., head of the Shellfish Unit at NFDC and the NSLP national coordinator, said the project's primary aim is to improve the standard of living for marginalized communities in the region, particularly during the closed fishing season.

Reyes said the value-adding strategy employed by the project provides shellfish growers with an additional source of income, especially for those unable to sell all of their fresh clam products.

The selected beneficiaries expressed their gratitude for the government's support, which promises to provide them with a new source of revenue.

In addition to offering beneficiaries a reliable source of income, the intervention also presents an opportunity for small-scale fishermen to engage in an effective business enterprise.

The local government units, fisherfolk association and BFAR are working towards not only supporting the local economy but also improving the lives of those who rely on shellfish livelihoods in the Zamboanga Peninsula. (SunStar Zamboanga)