Following the oil spill incident due to the sinking of MT Princess Empress that occurred last February 28, 2023 in the coastal waters of Naujan, Oriental Mindoro, the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) provides livelihood assistance to the affected fisherfolk.

During his visit in the province yesterday, DA-BFAR National Director Demosthenes Escoto committed the initial allotment of Php 4,000,000 which will be used to implement immediate and alternative livelihood assistance for fisherfolk engaged in capture fishing while the provincial government enforces fishing ban in the affected areas.

Using the said initial amount, the DA-BFAR will provide livelihood assistance through the provision of post-harvest training and equipment, particularly ten (10) units of smokehouses for fish processing. The raw materials for fish processing will be sourced from Occidental Mindoro and other nearby areas not affected by the oil spill.

In addition, the DA-BFAR in partnership with the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority (PFDA) will operationalize KADIWA OPLAN ISDA, an existing project which supports fisherfolk by providing market linkages. Fisheries cooperatives from Occidental Mindoro and Oriental Mindoro will be linked for fish trade, while the DA- BFAR provides logistical support such as utilization of reefer vans.

“The DA-BFAR is determined to help our affected fisherfolk cope with the loss of income due to the fishing ban resulting from the oil spill. We are implementing these immediate livelihood interventions which will be coursed through the provincial agriculture office of Oriental Mindoro for a centralized and strategic distribution to our fisherfolk beneficiaries,” BFAR Director Escoto said.

Aside from livelihood interventions, the DA-BFAR is also extending technical assistance to the provincial local government unit by conducting laboratory testing of water and fish samples gathered from the affected areas. The result of the tests will be used in determining and recommending areas that are safe for fishing activities.

To date, about 11,000 fisherfolk families in the municipalities of Naujan and Pola including its neighbouring areas are affected by the oil spill according to local government reports.