LUBAO -- In an effort to promote sustainable aquaculture productivity, the Provincial Government of Pampanga and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Region III joined hands in meeting with a thousand fishpond operators during a forum last August 26.
The event titled "Forum on Food Security and Sustainable Aquaculture for Fishpond Operators" held at the Pineda Sports Complex of Lubao, highlighted various lectures on fish farming, fishpond management, and good aquaculture practices.
The fishpond operators also heard from BFAR experts on Tilapia culture and its status within the Central Luzon fish industry.
Governor Lilia Pineda lauded the fisherfolk for their hardwork after hearing that Pampanga is now number one in Tilapia production all over the Philippines. She said that continuous support will be given to the fish farmers and fishpond operators in the province which is now over 5,000 in totality.
Department of Agriculture (DA) Undersecretary for Fisheries and BFAR National Director Eduardo Gongona, on the other hand, emphasized the importance of aquaculture to the country's over-all fisheries production.
"As one of the primary sources of fish in the country, aquaculture remains a top performer in the fisheries sector and provides livelihood to thousands of Filipinos," he said.
An open forum was also conducted between fishpond operators and several public officials, including Pampanga Second District Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who expressed her full support to the operators and wished the continued productivity of aquaculture in Pampanga.
"Our 26-hectare fish farming community has a lot of potential and I congratulate our fish farmers for that. With the help of BFAR, we will continue to support the needs of the fisheries sector in the province," she said.
After hearing about the needs of the fisherfolks in terms of transportation, she and Gov. Pineda assured that the capitol can provide each groups with trucks and other vehicles with cold storage.
Gov. Pineda later on advised fish farmers to consider livelihood production of Tilapia fillet, sardines, and Danggit, aside from fresh Tilapia distribution.
She urged the sector to continuously cooperate with the government while it works on further improving the status of the agriculture industry.
More than 90 percent (150,000 metric tons) of Pampanga's fisheries come from aquaculture and this accounts for nearly four percent of the country's fisheries production or over 60 percent of Region III.
As a show of support, BFAR awarded nine fiberglass boats, 100 gill nets, and 9 marine engines which Rep. Arroyo and Governor Pineda formally turned over to the fisherfolk beneficiaries from the coastal towns of Lubao and Sasmuan.
BFAR Regional Director Wilfredo Cruz noted that the said distribution is part of the agency's thrust toward sustainable fisheries production.
"Thru empowering the fisheries sector, the department, together with the local and the national government hopes to achieve food sufficiency in the next six years," he said. (Erika Mariel Gines)