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Stakeholders meet to mitigate negative impacts of aquaculture

managing aquaculture DILIMAN, Quezon City - A national gathering of fish farmers, fisheries researchers and policy makers from both the government and the private sector is slated to be held here in Quezon City to formulate strategies in mitigating the negative impact of aquaculture and assure its sustainability.

The meeting is sponsored by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources of the Department of Agriculture and PHILMINAQ, short for Mitigating Impact from Aquaculture in the Philippines and will be held on January 31, 2008 at the Imperial Palace Suites in Timog Avenue , Quezon City . Some 200 fisheries stakeholders are expected to participate coming mostly from local government units and non government organizations involved in aquaculture and environmental concerns, research institutions, the academe, Fisheries Aquatic and Resource Management Councils and national government agencies concerned with aquaculture and the environment

PHILMINAQ is a European Union funded project whose main objective is to enhance the capabilities of the Philippine government in monitoring, control and enforcement of aquaculture in a sustainable manner within the guidelines of the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. The Code intends to assists member countries to promote a safe and responsible fisheries and aquaculture.

Task to implement the PHILMINAQ project are the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), UP-Marine Science Institute, Scottish Association of Marine Science and the AkvaPlan-Niva of Norway .

BFAR Director Malcolm I. Sarmiento, Jr. said that his vision for Philippine aquaculture is one that provides more food, more employment and more foreign exchange rather than an aquaculture that result to habitat destruction, pollution and farming-induced calamities such as fish kills. In no way that the environmental integrity should be compromised, he said

“Beginning this year, the implementation of organic aquaculture will be intensified by the bureau nationwide. BFAR will introduce environment-friendly fish species like giant gourami, grass carp, bangus and new tilapia strains that will feed mostly on organic feeds such vegetable trimmings, aquatic plants like duckweed and filamentous algae. Also, organic-base fertilizers and pesticides for use in pond preparation will also be encouraged,” Sarmiento said.

“Aquaculture will continue to be the main source of food fish for the Philippines and the main growth driver for the agriculture sector”, Sarmiento promised.

Joint administrative order

A major highlight of the meeting is the presentation and signing of the Joint DA – DENR – DILG Administrative Order No 1 that gives definition and identification of the areas of cooperation and collaboration among the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in the planning, management and control of aquaculture development of the country to mitigate adverse impacts on the environment.

Agriculture Secretary Arthur C. Yap, DILG Secretary Ronaldo Puno and DENR Secretary Lito Atienza will sign the joint administrative order.

Another highlight is the launching of the Aquaculture Guidebook for the LGUs, formulated under the PHILMINAQ project to help LGUs address the negative environmental impacts associated with aquaculture.

The LGUs are depicted throughout the guidebook as the main player in the management and maintenance of ecological balance within their territorial jurisdiction, with national agencies providing the necessary support through policy formulation and standard setting, technical assistance and information dissemination.

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