‘Bluer Normal’ for fisheries and fishers pushed


 The COVID-19 pandemic continues to upend the country’s economy and the lives of every Filipino. However, “pliant like a bamboo”, we are confident that we will weather this storm, like every calamity in the past.

For the fisheries sector, this is an opportunity to reassess to enable it to deliver on its promise to feed the Filipinos today and ensure that there is still fish for Filipino children tomorrow.

Set against this backdrop, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resource (BFAR) in partnership with USAID Fish Right, organized a 3-part forum with the theme “Our Fish, Our Life: Towards a Bluer Normal” which focused on opportunities for sustaining fisheries productivity and resilience during this difficult time. The sessions were mounted via Zoom and were livestreamed through Facebook live on Kamusta Mangingisda and BFAR Mainstreaming EAFM Pages.

The 3-part forum featured key resource speakers who presented an overview of the country’s current socio-economic status; the effects of the pandemic on fisheries and its impact on marine biodiversity; and the opportunities to enhance fisheries productivity and resilience while adapting to the new normal.

Former NEDA Director-General Cielito Habito explored the socio-economic status of the country and the global and national recovery outlooks as they affect trade, livelihoods, and food security under the new normal.

For the July 20th session: Path Foundation Philippines Inc. president, Dr. Joan Castro, discussed the impacts of COVID-19 on the fisheries sector, including the likely changes in the drivers and pressures that affect fisheries/marine biodiversity and fisheries livelihoods.

Meanwhile, for the July 22nd session: NGO representative to the National Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Management Council, Julio Galvez-Tan, presented the opportunities to enhance fisheries productivity and resilience and identify recommendations to be adapted to usher in a better blue normal for fisheries and fishers.

SOCSKSARGEN Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries, Inc. (SFFAII) executive director Rosanna Bernadette B. Contreras who was invited as panel reactor during the 1st session on July 16th, presented the effects of the pandemic on the fishing industry.

Contreras reported that while fishing activities are an ”ongoing concern”, the industry is not immune to the effects of the pandemic. The whole value chain and supply chain is affected one way or the other. Contreras reported on the drop in fish prices due to decrease in consumer and institutional demands. This resulted to diminished fishing spirit especially for small players.

With the slowdown, if not closure, of the food service sector globally, international demand has decreased drastically. With reduced export orders, further reduction in production is expected. Moreover, fresh frozen processing plants in General Santos City like Tuna canneries have opted to adopt work rotation schemes to manage their respective head counts and avoid job losses.

The challenges in movement and transportation due to lockdown and border restrictions have seriously affected the aquaculture sector. Logistical difficulties have affected movement, locally and internationally, of inputs such as feeds and fry, and seafood products as well. In General Santos City and Sarangani, an expected decline in vannamei production is projected in August 2020. 

Contreras challenged fishing industry stakeholders to see “eye to eye” to enable the industry to strike a balance where we have enough fish on the table of every Filipino household; where fishers and fishworkers have livelihood to tie them up in these very challenging times; and where there are remaining fish stocks for generations to come.

It may be noted that in the recovery and resilience plan of the government, much emphasis is placed on food security and investing in improving agriculture. The strategy for the fisheries sector will remain anchored on fisheries conservation and building opportunities for fishers towards a ‘bluer normal’.


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SFFAII.COM: ‘Bluer Normal’ for fisheries and fishers pushed
‘Bluer Normal’ for fisheries and fishers pushed
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