By Jennifer C. Tilos
A multi-sectoral partnership program dubbed “Fish Right” which aims to improve fish production and protect marine resources in the country worth US$25 million was launched Thursday in Dumaguete City.
This five-year project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will be implemented in three areas in the country which include South Negros, Visayan Sea, and Calamianes Island Group.
During the Fish Right start-up event, partner institutions both from the provinces of Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental have signed the covenant of commitment to sustainable fisheries management in Negros Island.
In the same activity, Chief of Party of USAID’s Fish Right Program, Nygiel Armada, said the irresponsible fishing practices and weak on-ground implementation of fishery rules contribute to the threat of marine ecosystem and against sustainable seafood.
“Our degree of fishing right now will redound to loss or deplete fish stock in the seas because we are catching the fish before it matures and even before they give birth,” said Armada.
It was noted that the problem of declining fish supply is evident not only locally but also globally.
Thus, Armada cited the aims of the Fish Right program, namely: to increase fish biomass in selected marine protected areas by 10 percent and strive to enforce the existing fishing laws.
“We struggle for almost four decades now and we thought that fishes are inexhaustible. The fishes are not coming back because we catch them before they grow…before they are supposed to produce and we are destroying its nurseries and coral reefs,” he lamented.
He explained that effective fisheries management and governance are needed to achieve sustainable fisheries, “manage the people who are utilizing and catching and at the same time who are creating rules for managing the fishery.”
In order to address the fish situation and improve fish-based food protein security, the said program also presents an ecosystem approach including “right-sizing” when catching fish.
“We believe that building partnerships with this Fish Right program can be even more successful. The USAID has committed to work with the Philippine government in sustainable fisheries management,” Armada noted.