TACLOBAN CITY- The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR-8) assured the public of sufficient supply and increased production of fish and other fish products in the region.
In an interview with the BFAR Regional Director Norberto Berida during the ‘Suruswerte ha PIA’ radio program hosted by Director Olive Tiu of the Philippine Information Agency, it was learned that the Eastern Visayas region has a good fishery and aquatic resources status, with a 68.4 percent sufficiency of fish products.
This, according to Director Berida, is higher as compared to last year’s sufficiency rate of 56 percent. However, in spite of the sufficiency, it has been observed though that fish and other related products are priced high ranging from P360 to P380 per kilo.
“The increased price of fish boils down to the law of supply and demand. We have enough catch, but we lack the supply, as these products are being exported to other areas, leaving the region with fewer and lower quality products that are being sold at a higher price,” Berida said.
Along with this premise, the BFAR official shared that there is a move particularly in Calbayog City, to prohibit fisherfolks from bringing quality fish out of the city. Through this strategy, people in other places may opt to visit the city instead, just to patronize quality marine products. The said plan, however, remains to be considered as regards feasibility.
The director added, “Whether there is exportation or not, the income of fishermen remains the same. The middlemen are getting better income.”
During the interview, Director Berino also disclosed some priority programs of the agency for the year 2021. These programs include the focus on expanding aquaculture products such as tilapia, bangus, shrimps, and non-food products like seaweeds and shellfish.
Here, the office targets to provide at least 11 million tilapia fingerlings for the whole year to owners of fish cages in the freshwater, fish pond, or backyard ponds, while 2 million fingerlings are targeted for bangus.
The BFAR Central Office is likewise ready to extend its support considering the current health crisis. The office has also targeted to develop shrimp nursery, particularly in Jiabong, Samar, having a total budget of P4 million.
Director Berida also shared the plan to expand the existing seaweed nurseries in Basey, Samar; Guiuan, Eastern Samar, and in the province of Northern Samar. As to the government’s efforts to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC), the BFAR official bared its participation through the rice and fish culture production during the last two years, particularly in the municipalities of Paranas, San Jorge, San Jose de Buan, and Matuguinao, all in the Samar province.
Plans are also underway for the provinces of Eastern and Northern Samar.
During the program, some plans related to ecological management, governance, and the welfare of the region’s fisherfolks were also discussed, considering that BFAR 8 leads the Fishery Management Area (FMA) 8 comprising the sea areas of San Pedro Bay, Leyte Gulf, Surigao Strait, and the Caraga region. The plans include the livelihood support and capability building for the fishermen, and the control of fishing activities and harvest of the marine stocks.
“We are committed to sustaining fish sufficiency and we are targeting to increase our aquaculture production by 33.6 percent metric tons. With the increased harvest, our place could expect lower prices of fish products,” Berida said.
Meanwhile, Director Berino has cautioned the public on Red Tide Poisoning, which according to him, is a natural phenomenon that occurs yearly nationwide, with region 8 having the most number of occurrences.
“Presently, there are still 10 areas affected by the Red Tide poisoning. These are the Irong-Irong Bay in Catbalogan and Daram, Samar; the Coastal waters of Zumarraga, Samar; Calubian, Leyte; Leyte, Leyte; Biliram Islands; Guiuan, Eastern Samar; San Pedro Bay in Basey, Samar; Matarinao Bay of General MacArthur, Quinapondan and Hernani, all in Eastern Samar; Carigara Bay along Babatngon, San Miguel, Barugo, Carigara and Capoocan, in Leyte province, and; Cancabato Bay in Tacloban City.
He added that during the occurrence of Red Tide, the public is advised to refrain from selling and eating all kinds of shellfishes such as mussels and talaba, among others. Fish, shrimps, and crabs are safe for human consumption, provided they are washed with running water and fish intestines removed.
Moreover, the Director shared some temporary home remedies should red tide poisoning occurs, through drinking at least 1 glass of buko juice coupled with some teaspoons of brown sugar, so as to detoxify the body. Consulting with health experts at the nearest health center or hospital is also advised, according to him.