The Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) has inaugurated, today, February 28, two government-procured, 62-footer steel-hulled fishing vessels at the Sual Fish Port Complex in Sual, Pangasinan.

The Filipino-built ringnet fishing vessels, each costing over Php 23 million, are equipped with full machinery and accessories designed to provide identified municipal fisherfolk organizations in Regions I and VIII with upgraded and appropriate fishing equipment in order to improve their fishing capacity and production efficiency.

“As an archipelagic country, we cannot overemphasize the critical role of fisheries in our economy: the Philippines is simply rich in marine and inland water resources which translate to income, employment, foreign exchange earnings, nutrition, and food security. We need to optimize this resource for the ultimate benefit of our fishers and their communities,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said in his keynote message.

The project on capacitating municipal fisherfolk through acquisition and allocation of bigger and better-equipped fishing boats started in 2020. While small pelagic fishing grounds are mostly found in coastal and shallow areas such as municipal waters, only 40% of the production of these species are currently attributed to the municipal sector due to the limited fishing capacity of municipal fishing boats. By upgrading and capacitating municipal fishers, the government will be able to improve fish production, alleviate poverty in the municipal fisheries subsector, and in the long term, contribute significantly in attaining a food-secure Philippines.

“We have seen the inadequacies and inefficiencies of various fishing technologies especially in coastal and municipal waters, and we are here to address that,” Secretary Dar added.

The project, which is in line with DA-BFAR’s “Big Brother-Small Brother” approach, is promoted to improve cooperation, collaboration, and strengthened partnerships among sectors to help coastal communities grow and prosper.

Aside from the two ring net fishing boats launched in Pangasinan, the DA-BFAR targets to award 35 more fishing vessels, including two ring net, six bag net and 27 handline fishing boats in the coming months. To ensure project sustainability and higher income, DA-BFAR’s technical experts will conduct cooperative development and management trainings to the fisherfolk-beneficiaries.

The two newly-launched fishing vessels are half of the four units of ringnet fishing boats designed and built by Filipino ship-building company Josefa Slipways, Inc, which also fabricated two of DA-BFAR’s multi-mission vessels, BRP Lapu-Lapu (MMOV 5001) and BRP Francisco Dagohoy (MMOV 5002).