Press and Photo Releases 2012
U.S., Philippines Launch New Partnership To Promote Fisheries Sector Sustainability
Manila, October 17, 2012—The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Philippines Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) led by Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala today launched a new project that will help improve the management of the Philippines’ marine and coastal resources.
The Ecosystems Improved for Sustainable Fisheries (ECOFISH) Project is a five-year technical assistance project designed to protect and manage eight marine key biodiversity areas (MKBAs) in the country: the Calamianes Group of Islands in Palawan, Lingayen Gulf in Pangasinan, Ticao Pass-Lagonoy Gulf-San Bernardino Strait in Bicol and Samar region, Danajon Double Barrier Reef in Bohol and Leyte, Southern Negros Occidental, Surigao provinces, the Sulu Archipelago and the Verde Island Passage in Batangas and Mindoro area.
The U.S. Embassy’s USAID Environment Chief Rolf Anderson said, “ECOFISH aims to conserve biological diversity, enhance ecosystem productivity, and restore profitability of fisheries using ecosystem-based approaches to create broader social, economic and environmental impacts.”
The Philippines currently ranks eighth in total fisheries production globally. However, a recent national stock assessment report stated that two-thirds of the 12 major fishing bays in the country are overfished. There is also indication that the catch rates of reef fisheries are among the lowest in the world, partly due to the use of dynamite and cyanide in fishing.
“Excessive fishing has resulted in the decrease in average sizes of fishes, shifts in species composition, and steep decline in abundance of valuable species. If this continues, fish production may not only decrease but it may also collapse,” DA-BFAR Director Asis G. Perez said.
Under ECOFISH, BFAR hopes to reverse the trend by establishing and implementing technical training programs, supporting local governments in improving management of municipal marine waters, and facilitating collaboration between governments, institutions, and private sector partners.
The project will enhance inter-municipal government alliances, establish a national training program for local and national government personnel involved in fisheries, undertake programs that will result to increase in fish population, identify opportunities for fishing communities to gain employment and improve their livelihood, and generate public-private sector partnerships to support sustainable fisheries management.