02 October 2023
Reallocating confidential funds to the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) would significantly enhance its monitoring, control, and surveillance efforts in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) and other fishing grounds across the country, according to the Agency.
While the decision rests with Congress, DA-BFAR National Director Atty. Demosthenes R. Escoto expressed gratitude to lawmakers’ consideration of augmenting its funds.
“We extend our heartfelt appreciation to the members of Congress advocating additional funds to DA-BFAR and other security agencies,” Director Escoto said. “This initiative would empower our Agency to strengthen and enhance our existing monitoring, control, and surveillance activities in the WPS and other fishing grounds to ensure the sustainable use of our marine resources and safeguard the livelihoods of our fisherfolk.”
Utilizing its current assets and available resources, DA-BFAR has been actively combating illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing, a persistent threat in Philippine waters.
The Agency employs floating assets to monitor unlawful fishing activities and conducts resupply missions in collaboration with government agencies, particularly the Philippine Coast Guard.
These missions provide essentials such as engine oil, drinking water, and ready-to-eat snacks to Filipino fisherfolk engaged in fishing activities in the WPS.
This year, the DA-BFAR also launched the Livelihood Activities to Enhance Fisheries Yields and Economic Gains from WPS (LAYAG-WPS), a livelihood project worth nearly P80 million. The program seeks to provide local fisherfolk with essential tools, knowledge, fishing gears and paraphernalia, and post-harvest training to help them fish more effectively in the WPS and reduce their post-harvest losses.
Last June, the DA-BFAR delivered almost P5 million-worth of livelihood inputs and capacity-building programs to residents of Pag-asa Island in Kalayaan, Palawan, under the LAYAG-WPS project. Assistance included Fiber Reinforced Plastic (FRP) boats, fish aggregating devices, rain catchers, and more.
“The DA-BFAR respects the wisdom of our lawmakers in determining the need for budget augmentation,” Director Escoto said.
“Nevertheless, the DA-BFAR remains committed to combating IUU fishing and empowering Filipino fisherfolk with our existing assets and resources. We want to ensure they can fish peacefully, productively, and sustainably in our waters, especially in the WPS, which rightfully belongs to Filipinos,” he added.