Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) National Director, Eduardo B Gongona and Fisheries Management Area (FMA) 11 Chairperson Regional Director Remia A. Aparri hosted a consultation meeting with the Aquaculture Sector represented by the members of the FMA 11 Management Board (MB), Scientific Advisory Group (SAG), and Technical Working Group (TWG) held on April 9, 2022, at Zuri Hotel, Mandurriao, Iloilo City.

The meeting was a kick-off for an upcoming workshop to come up with part two of the Fisheries Management Area Framework which will focus on management actions for the aquaculture sector.

Director Gongona, in his message, highlighted the need to ensure food sufficiency by increasing local fish production. He further emphasized the important role of the sector to achieve food security being the second highest contributor to fisheries production here in Western Visayas.

Sector representatives present were MB Member, Mr. David Villaluz; SAG Members, Dr. Shelah Ursua and Ms. Erish Superio of Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center – Aquaculture Department (SEAFDEC – AQD), and Mr. Victor Emmanuel Estilo; and TWG member, Mr. Tomas Hautea, Sr. Also in attendance are Mr. Dax Tan Yau, Mr. Lionel Iguiz, and Mr. Mike Tan Yau all of whom are pond owners and operators.

Among the issues raised by the sector are a) need for nurseries to sustain fish cages; b) shortage in fry supply; c) high feed cost; d) frequent flooding along the Barotac-Anilao waterway and e) abandoned, undeveloped, and underutilized Fishpond Lease Agreement (FLA) areas.

To address these concerns the group tabled the following management actions: a) put up nurseries/hatcheries (central hatcheries per Island cluster and several satellite hatcheries in collaboration with SEAFDEC-AQD); b) production of soya and an agreement with SEAFDEC-AQD on low-cost feeds; c) coordination with local government units and Department of Public Works and Highways for a clearing operation; and d) updating of FLA status and revisiting the tenurial agreements, among others.

The meeting was also part of the bureau’s effort relevant to the Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar’s marching order to consult with stakeholders on issues that threaten the country’s food security including the surge in fuel prices and a subsequent increase in primary commodity costs. While the government tames the effects with immediate and short-term programs, it is imperative that all sectors are assessed to effectively and appropriately address this pressing issue.

FMA 11 is a major aquaculture area for milkfish, shellfish, tilapia, and shrimps. In fact, of the 395,906 metric tons (PSA, 2021) fisheries production in 2021 of FMA 11 (Capiz, Cebu, Guimaras, Iloilo, Masbate, Negros Occidental, and Negros Oriental), the sector contributed almost 35% or 137,824.91 MT which came in second to the municipal fishing sector which contributed approximately 48% or 189,235.79 MT.#/BFAR6/RJSenangote