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Tawi-Tawi BARMM Recognized in FAO’s Flagship Publication

SOFIA 2024Manila, Philippines – The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has given recognition to the Philippine seaweed farmers of Tawi-Tawi in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) by dedicating a full page to their efforts and achievements in the latest edition of the FAO flagship publication, The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA).

The feature highlights the journey of a member of the Sama Dilaut sea nomads, and their significant contributions to sustainable seaweed farming in Tawi-Tawi. Despite facing numerous socio-economic and environmental challenges, Tawi-Tawi people have excelled in this industry, using traditional methods that have become vital for their livelihood.

Tawi-Tawi now stands as a cornerstone of the global seaweed farming industry, with the municipality of Sitangkai playing a pivotal role in promoting Eucheuma seaweed farming since the 1970s. By 1987, Sitangkai had emerged as the premier Eucheuma farming hub in the Philippines, significantly contributing to foreign exchange revenue and bolstering local economies.

The FAO’s recognition of Tawi-Tawi’s seaweed farmers in the SOFIA report underscores the importance of their work in contributing to the global seaweed industry. This acknowledgement not only highlights the community’s resilience and innovation but also emphasizes the need for continued support to ensure sustainable and economically viable seaweed farming practices in the face of the new challenges emerging.

Globally, the SOFIA report also reveals that fisheries and aquaculture production has reached a new record high, with an estimated production of 223.2 million tonnes in 2022, marking a 4.4 percent increase from the year 2020. The report also highlights that in 2022 and for the first time in history, aquaculture surpassed capture fisheries as the main producer of aquatic animals. Yet, at present, a small number of countries dominate global aquaculture with the Philippines being one of them. Together with China, Indonesia, India, Viet Nam, Bangladesh, Republic of Korea, Norway, Egypt, Chile, the Philippines produced over 89.8 percent of the world total.

Furthermore, the SOFIA report addresses key issues such as climate change, sustainability, and the role of small-scale fisheries and aquaculture in ensuring food security and nutrition. It calls for urgent action to enhance the resilience of fisheries and aquaculture to climate impacts, improve management practices, and promote sustainable use of aquatic resources.

“FAO welcomes the significant achievements thus far, but further transformative and adaptive actions are needed to strengthen the efficiency, inclusiveness, resilience and sustainability of aquatic food systems and consolidate their role in addressing food insecurity, poverty alleviation and sustainable governance,” said FAO Director-General QU Dongyu. “That’s why FAO advocates Blue Transformation, to meet the overall requirements of better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life, leaving no one behind.”

“The FAO’s dedication of a full page to the seaweed farmers of Tawi-Tawi in its flagship publication is a testament to the country’s vital role in the global seaweed industry and its contribution to sustainable development,” said Lionel Dabbadie, FAO representative in the Philippines.

For more information, please contact: FAO Philippines at [email protected]

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