The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) on Tuesday said reallocating confidential funds will enhance its monitoring, control, and surveillance efforts in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
In a press release, BFAR national director Demosthenes Escoto expressed gratitude to lawmakers’ consideration of augmenting its funds.
This was after the House of Representatives said it will realign the confidential and intelligence funds of the Office of the Vice President, the Department of Education, and other civilian agencies to augment the budgets of intelligence and security forces.
“This initiative would empower our Agency to strengthen and enhance our existing monitoring, control, and surveillance activities in the WPS and other fishing grounds to ensure the sustainable use of our marine resources and safeguard the livelihoods of our fisherfolk,” said Escoto.
The agency said it is utilizing its current assets and available resources in combating illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing, which it said is a persistent threat in Philippine waters.
“The DA-BFAR respects the wisdom of our lawmakers in determining the need for budget augmentation,” Escoto said, adding that the bureau aims to ensure that Filipino fishermen can fish “peacefully, productively, and sustainably in our waters, especially in the WPS.”
BFAR said various programs and collaborations with government agencies are ongoing to provide essentials such as engine oil, drinking water, and ready-to-eat snacks to Filipino fisherfolk engaged in fishing activities in the WPS.
It said it has also launched the Livelihood Activities to Enhance Fisheries Yields and Economic Gains from WPS (LAYAG-WPS), a livelihood project worth nearly P80 million seeking to provide local fisherfolk with essential tools, knowledge, gears and paraphernalia, as well as post-harvest training and reduce post-harvest losses.
On June 2023, BFAR delivered almost P5 million worth of livelihood inputs and capacity-building programs to residents of Pag-asa Island in Kalayaan, Palawan, under the LAYAG-WPS project. —Sherylin Untalan/KBK, GMA Integrated News