The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) is aiming to achieve a 100-percent food-fish sufficiency level for the country by 2028.
According to the Agency, the Philippines’ food-fish sufficiency level, net of trade, was at 92.5 percent by 2022.
This target was included in BFAR’s Strategic Plan for 2023-2028, a comprehensive roadmap detailing the Bureau’s goals for the development, improvement, management, and conservation of the Philippines’ fishery and aquatic resources within the next five years.
“Committed to steering our nation towards a sustainable future, we at BFAR are confident that our concerted efforts will lead to a bountiful harvest and secure a self-sufficient future for all,” said BFAR National Director Atty. Demosthenes R. Escoto. “Together, we cast the net of progress towards a thriving and resilient fisheries sector.”
To attain the 100 percent food-fish sufficiency level by 2028, BFAR will enhance production in the fisheries sector through increased productivity and reduced post-harvest losses of fish and fishery products.
Among the measures identified in the Strategic Plan were the distribution of additional interventions such as new fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP) boats, fishing gears, and paraphernalia; establishment of mariculture parks; reassessment and maintenance of existing mariculture parks; and development and recommendation of supplemental guidelines for the operation and management of legislated hatcheries.
Also included in the plan were the provision and modernization of fisheries post harvest and cold chain technologies and facilities; establishment of common shared service facilities (CSSFs) for fish and fishery product; crafting of commodity-specific marketing plans, expanding participation in market linkaging and businesses, establishment and facilitation of direct linkage between fisherfolk borrowers and financing institutions, and maximizing utilization of government assets on logistics as well as partnership with private sector in aid of marketing activities.
BFAR also stated it would strengthen its coordination and collaboration with the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute for updated and appropriate fishing technologies and provide assistance in the formation of the fisherfolk into associations or cooperatives.
The Bureau would also focus on the full implementation of the Philippine Fisheries and Coastal Resiliency (FishCoRe) Project and the Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) Project.
“All these measures align with the enduring vision of the Marcos Administration of building a self-sufficient nation. Food fish sufficiency is more than just sustenance on our tables; it embodies a nation’s inherent resilience in the face of challenges and serves as a bedrock for prosperity and the overall well-being of our people,” Director Escoto said.
Empowering fisherfolk
Developed in 2023, BFAR’s Strategic Plan also envisions empowered, competitive, and resilient fisherfolk as active partners in the country’s sustainable development.
Among its goals is a five-percent poverty reduction within five years in the fisheries sector, or bringing down the poverty incidence to 26 percent by 2028.
BFAR’s data showed a 30.6 percent and 26.2 percent poverty incidence in the fisheries sector in 2021 and 2018, respectively.
Poverty incidence was at 36.9 percent in 2015, 39.2 percent in 2012, 41.3 percent in 2009, and 41.2 percent in 2006.
The Strategic Plan also placed ecological sustainability at the forefront as BFAR strives for a sustainable and climate-resilient fisheries sector.
As such, BFAR would strengthen the implementation of harvest control measures, as well as monitoring, control, and surveillance efforts against illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
The Bureau also sought to ensure the maintenance of operations of registration systems and verification and adoption of aquaculture technologies to make the fisheries industry sustainable and climate resilient.
Fisheries governance
BFAR is also committed to strengthening fisheries governance.
The Strategic Plan emphasized the intensification of implementation of Fisheries Management Areas to ensure that science-based policies are being implemented across the archipelago, reviewing the Fisheries Code, conducting regulatory impact assessments, strict enforcement of regulation measures, and harmonization of good aquaculture practices.
Also included in BFAR’s measures were the review of structure and plantilla positions between Central and Regional Offices to rationalize BFAR central and regional organizational structures; conduct of training, workshops, and other capacity building activities to capacitate and enable them to comply with the Sec. 17 of the LGU Code; continuation of BFAR scholarship program to professionalize the fisheries manpower; and formalizing partnerships with other government agencies and the private sector.