Manila—On April 18, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Philippines Mission Director Ryan Washburn joined Philippine government and private sector partners for the expansion of the agency’s Responsible Seafood Sourcing Program for blue swimming crabs in Iloilo City that will strengthen the domestic market for responsibly sourced seafood and reduce illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing in the province.

“Through the responsible seafood sourcing program, businesses can consistently provide quality seafood products while ensuring the health of the marine environment and supporting the livelihoods of local fishing communities,” Mission Director Washburn said at an event attended by representatives of the local government of Iloilo, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), and the local seafood industry.

Under its Fish Right Program, USAID and BFAR will work with the local community, the private sector, and government partners to develop direct market linkages between fishers, hotels, restaurants, and supermarkets to grow the local market for responsibly-caught blue swimming crabs, create livelihoods for fisherfolk, and incentivize sustainable fishing practices.

USAID’s work with BFAR and the private sector to expand responsible seafood sourcing in Iloilo connects responsible fishers to Philippine seafood businesses, buyers, distributors, and communities and improves the transparency of the seafood supply chains. Through USAID’s support, crab fishers from Igbon Island are now able to supply whole chilled crabs to the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel in Iloilo City.

This program will also help small fishers find new local markets to lessen their dependence on the volatile export market. The Philippines is a major exporter of blue swimming crab and is the second largest exporter of this species to the United States.

“Responsible Seafood Sourcing is the way to go as we endeavor to achieve conservation and sustainability of our fisheries resources while ensuring that livelihood and welfare of fishing communities are appropriately taken care of,” Department of Agriculture Undersecretary for Fisheries Drusila Bayate said in a statement.

For more than three decades, USAID has partnered with the Philippines to support environmental conservation. Through its P1.8-billion ($33-million) Fish Right Program, USAID is promoting safe, legal, and responsible fisheries practices in the Visayan Sea, South Negros, Calamianes Island Group, and Zambales. (PR)