The month of May just might be one of the most important months for the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) as it celebrates two of the fishery sector’s corner stones: the Ocean and the fisherfolk.

DA-BFAR formally kicked off the celebration of the Month of the Ocean and Farmers’ and Fisherfolk’s Month with a simple virtual ceremony on May 10, 2021, which highlighted the crucial roles of oceans and fisherfolk in ensuring food security for Filipinos.

“In the performance of our tasks, we must always be reminded of our renewed mission and vision a food-secure and resilient Philippines with prosperous and empowered farmers and fishers, and to make farming and fishing more profitable, productive, sustainable and competitive so that future shocks such as this pandemic do not threaten food security and nutrition security of the Filipinos,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said.

This year, the two celebrations come with different but equally insightful themes: Farmers’ and Fisherfolk’s Month’s “May pandemya man o wala, Magsasaka’t Mangingisda Maaasahan ng Bansa” and Month of the Ocean’s “The science we need, for the ocean we want.”

Farmers’ and Fisherfolk’s Month

Since the onset of the pandemic, the Philippine fisheries sector has remained resilient and produced more than 4.40 million metric tons in the year 2020 with thousands of fishers and fisherfolk venturing out while following basic health and safety protocols despite the threat of COVID-19.

In recognition of the bravery and courage of Filipino fisherfolk, the Bureau, through its centers and regional offices, is continuously providing trainings and livelihood support in the form of fishing gears, aquaculture implements, and post-harvest equipment, among others under the fisheries development and fisheries extension programs.

Month of the Ocean

DA-BFAR, along with its partner agencies from the government and non-governmental organizations and institutions, resonates the call for science-based policies and programs especially in conservation and management measures.

When it comes to conserving marine and aquatic resources and protecting the livelihood of the fisherfolk, DA-BFAR has implemented since years ago programs that balance both and achieve the goal of increased fish production without compromising the integrity of the country’s fisheries resources. The Bureau has also put science as the backbone of its recent programs and policies such as the Fisheries Management Areas and species-based management plans, among others.

“We have to think of the fisher generations, and that brings us to adapt, embrace conservation and sustainability measures. Nevertheless, the Department of Agriculture through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, the National Fisheries Research Development Institute, and the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority collectively brings to you the consolidated approach to help our fishers address these initial challenges or hiccups due to these conservation measures,” DA Undersecretary for Agri-Industries and for Fisheries Cheryl Marie Natividad-Caballero said. Adding that the DA has packaged programs that ensures assistance for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in the fishery sector.

The DA-BFAR has lined up a list of activities this month to honor the Filipino fisherfolk and their heroic deeds at the frontlines and scale up conservation awareness for the oceans.