CITING the dwindling fish supply, re-elected Senator Cynthia Villar is pushing for various measures for the establishment of fisheries research centers especially in the regions to also help secure the livelihood of small fisherfolk.
Villar, chair of the Committee on Agriculture and Food, pushed for the passage of House Bill 7491, which seeks to establish a provincial fisheries and aquatic resources training, development and product center in Aklan; HB 7500, which seeks to establish a freshwater multispecies hatchery and research center in Balo-I, Lanao del Norte; and HB 7484, which seeks to establish a fisheries research center in Abulug, Cagayan.
“These bills will help resolve overfishing and dwindling fish catch for the small fisherfolk in these areas since they will be given priority access to their own town’s marine resources and new technologies including the processing and preservation of their fish catch,” Villar said.
Villar also echoed the warning issued by experts saying that if sustainable fishing is not practiced and oceans are not given time to recover, they could become ‘virtual deserts’ by 2050 or 31 years from now.
“We want to solve this shortage not only because fish is an important part of the Filipino diet. We also want to take advantage of the ever-increasing demand for high-value marine species in both local and export markets and to satisfy the world’s growing appetite for fish,” Villar said.
“With the creation of these hatcheries and more in the future, our people are now assured of a source of food. Through these facilities, we can provide the opportunity to our fisherfolks to undergo training and improve present practices to improve productivity,” she added.
Villar also added that this is an opportune time for the Senate to act on the bills with the observance on May 31 of National Fisherfolks Day by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 261.
Other fishery facilities Villar helped to be established in 14 provinces are located at Quezon, Albay, Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Surigao del Norte, Sultan Kudarat, Cebu, Catanduanes, Zamboanga del Norte, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Biliran, Eastern Samar and Northern Samar.