Senator Cynthia Villar highlighted Saturday, July 2 that 11 of her local bills seeking the establishment of multi-species marine hatcheries in various locations nationwide are now laws.
Villar, chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, has pushed for the passage of these measures in the 18th Congress because of the high agriculture poverty incidence in the fisheries sector.
“The productivity of our marine fisheries resources has been declining because of environmental degradation and ineffective natural resources management,” she stressed.
The significant reduction in the country’s fish catch, Villar said, has compromised food sufficiency and income of our people.
Furthermore, the country’s fisheries sector provides an inexpensive source of animal protein for the population, livelihood for over one million Filipinos, and generates foreign exchange, she explained.
“With the growing population of the Philippines, fishing is one of the major industries seen as a positive contributor to the developing economy,” she added.
“Thus the need for hatcheries be established in our country which provide the seed for aquaculture and some commercial fisheries,” she pointed out.
“A hatchery is where fish and shellfish are spawned, hatched and cared for. They remain at the hatchery until they are large enough to be transferred to a fish or shellfish farm or released into the wild as part of a stock enhancement program,” explained the senator.
The fishing industry sectors- commercial, aquaculture and shellfish farms require a steady, predictable source of juveniles from hatcheries in order to stay in operation and provide a consistent product.
The mangrove crab or alimango farming industry delves in the trade of a high-value resource that accounts for a P5.2-billion industry, and huge demand and high value in the international market.
In 2019, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said 860.75 million fries were produced by registered milk fish (bangus) hatcheries in the country while 19.5 million were caught in the wild. This only accounts for 24 percent of the total annual fry requirement.
To compensate, bangus fish farmers are forced to import fry to sustain annual production.
“The BFAR also said tilapia fry and fingerling production was 208.35 million in 2020 while the annual demand is 2.1 billion tilapia fingerlings,” the lady senator said.