18 APRIL 2023
The Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) is fast-tracking the delivery of fisheries livelihood interventions in Oriental Mindoro as President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. vowed continuous assistance to families affected by the massive oil spill.
The DA-BFAR through its regional office in MIMAROPA has been providing equipment, raw materials, and hands-on technical training on fish-smoking technology to fisherfolk groups primarily affected by the oil spill to help them earn amid fishing bans imposed by the provincial government.
Some 689 fisherfolk in Oriental Mindoro have so far benefitted from the program since its launch in March, the agency reported.
The participants were trained on fish-smoking processes and techniques, as well as sustainable market strategies and business practices.
Upon completion of training, the DA-BFAR provided 10 smokehouses, 10 chest type freezers, 10 sets of kitchen wares, and 10 sets of food processing equipment to the province.
The participants also received raw materials such as galunggong, matambaka, hasa-hasa, and tamban for training purposes that served as capital to jumpstart their new businesses.
The Bureau said fisherfolk groups may source their raw materials through the DA’s KADIWA Program, in which nearby provinces like Occidental Mindoro, Antique, Iloilo, and Batangas had continuously delivered their supplies to the province even after the oil spill.
The smoked fish were sold in their respective municipalities and regional government offices such as the Department of Agriculture, Department of Trade and Industry, and Department of Science and Technology.
To ensure the sustainability of the said livelihood interventions, the DA-BFAR directed
each municipality to submit monthly production reports.
Fisherfolk groups were grateful for the DA-BFAR’s initiative, saying the post-harvest equipment, raw materials, and hands on-training they had received would help them earn money and feed their families while fishing bans remain in place.
“Lubos po kaming nagpapasalamat sa DA-BFAR sa kanilang mga ibinigay na tulong katulad ng training na ito at ang mga kagamitan na magagamit namin. Malaking tulong po ito sa aming hanapbuhay dahil naapektuhan ito ng oil spill (We are really grateful for
the DA-BFAR that provided this training and equipment. This will greatly help us because our livelihood which was hit by the oil spill),” said Michael Mirasol, president of Roxas-based group Samahang Nagkakaisang Mangingisda ng Paclasan. He is also one of the beneficiaries of the program.
“Layon po namin ay mapaunlad ang ibinigay po sa amin ng DA-BFAR upang mas makatulong sa aming komunidad na labis na naapektuhan ng oil spill (Our main goal is to develop this assistance from DA-BFAR so we can also help our community extremely affected by the oil spill),” he added.
The Bureau has long been championing post-harvest practices such as fish-smoking technology to reduce post-harvest losses and increase the income of local fishermen, especially since a kilo of smoked fish is thrice the price of raw fish. Smoked tamban, for instance, costs Php300-Php360 per kilo, while fresh tamban is priced at Php100-Php120 per kilo.
“Nakakatulong po ang livelihood interventions na ito sa ating mga fisherfolk na magkaroon ng income habang sila ay hindi pa maaaring makapangisda sa dagat dahil sa oil spill. Mahalaga po ang mga ito upang makapagbigay ng dagdag na kaalaman at kabuhayan sa mga naapektuhang lugar (These livelihood interventions are helping our fisherfolk have sources of income while they have yet to resume fishing activities because of the oil spill. These are important because it equips them with knowledge and gives them livelihood),” said DA-BFAR Regional Director Emmanuel H. Asis.
DA-BFAR National Director Atty. Demosthenes R. Escoto lauded the MIMAROPA regional office for their swift response to the oil spill situation as he emphasized the Bureau’s commitment to providing relief and livelihood assistance to affected
“We will continuously support our fishing communities, especially those in provinces affected by the oil spill so they can overcome this obstacle,” he noted.
Alternative fishing grounds
While fishing bans are still in place in the affected areas, the DA-BFAR has recommended alternative fishing grounds to help affected municipal fisherfolk get back to their livelihoods. These are the municipal waters of Paluan, Abra de Ilog, San Jose and
Magsaysay in Occidental Mindoro, Boac and Gasan in Marinduque, and Concepcion in Romblon.
In collaboration with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the DA-BFAR began its coordination efforts with concerned local government units to allow the affected fisherfolk of Oriental Mindoro to fish in their municipal waters.
Subsequently, Php12 million worth of fuel subsidy will be distributed to said affected fisherfolk of Oriental Mindoro as additional assistance. Meanwhile, Php4.4 million was spent for the aforementioned post-harvest technology packages.
In total, the DA-BFAR has so far spent Php22 million for livelihood and relief assistance for affected fishing communities. Additional funding will be used for supplementary interventions as the DA-BFAR eyes to utilize millions-worth of funds to provide fiberglass-reinforced plastic (FRP) boats, fish aggregating devices, aquaculture feed mill projects, bangus fry, tilapia fingerlings, fish cages, and other PPE sets for clean-up activities in Oriental Mindoro.
Moreover, the Bureau continues to collect and analyze fish and water samples from the affected areas to determine whether seafood from these areas are safe for public consumption and whether fishing bans should be lifted or continuously imposed.
President Marcos visited Oriental Mindoro on Saturday, April 15, to discuss relief and rehabilitation efforts with concerned government agencies and lead the distribution of food packs and cash aid to affected families.
“Asahan po ninyo na ang national government, nandito po kaming lahat upang alalayan ang sitwasyon ninyo dito at asahan ninyo na hindi titigil ‘yan hanggang kayo’y nakabangon na (Rest assured that the national government is behind you to assist your
province until all of you have recovered),” he said.
The Chief Executive also personally led the distribution of various government assistance such as fishing boats, fish smoking machines, water pumps, vegetable seeds, and palay seeds to the fisherfolk and residents of the province.