Reelected Senator Cynthia Villar has pushed for the creation of more fisheries research centers in the country to help solve the problem of dwindling fish supply and help secure the livelihood of small fisherfolk.

Villar, chair of the Committee on Agriculture and Food, pushed for the passage of House Bill 7491, which seeks to establish a provincial fisheries and aquatic resources training, development and product center in Aklan; HB 7500, which seeks to establish a freshwater multispecies hatchery and research center in Balo-I, Lanao del Norte; and HB 7484, which seeks to establish a fisheries research center in Abulug, Cagayan.

“These bills will help resolve overfishing and dwindling fish catch for the small fisherfolk in these areas since they will be given priority access to their own town’s marine resources and new technologies including the processing and preservation of their fish catch,” the seasoned legislator said.

“They will be given priority access to their own town’s marine resources.”

The veteran lawmaker was also instrumental in the establishment of similar facilities in Quezon, Albay, Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Surigao del Norte, Sultan Kudarat, Cebu, Catanduanes, Zamboanga del Norte, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Biliran, Eastern Samar and Northern Samar.

The lady senator also added that this is an opportune time for the Senate to act on the bills with the observance on May 31 of National Fisherfolks Day by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 261.

National Fisherfolks Day is being celebrated every year to highlight the aspirations and contributions of the fishing industry, particularly the marginal fisherfolks in the overall national economic development.

“Building of more facilities to improve our fish farming capabilities is one of the long-term solutions we need in order to improve our productivity. Many of our traditional fishing grounds are getting overfished and we need to create breeding grounds and hatcheries to help arrest the dwindling fish stock,” she said.

Villar also echoed the warning issued by experts saying that if sustainable fishing is not practiced and oceans are not given time to recover, they could become ‘virtual deserts’ by 2050 or 31 years from now.

“We want to solve this shortage not only because fish is an important part of the Filipino diet. We also want to take advantage of the ever-increasing demand for high-value marine species in both local and export markets and to satisfy the world’s growing appetite for fish,” she said.

“We want to solve this shortage not only because fish is an important part of the Filipino diet.”

“With the creation of these hatcheries and more in the future, our people are now assured of a source of food. Through these facilities, we can provide the opportunity to our fisherfolks to undergo training and improve present practices to improve productivity,” Villar added.

She also noted that the Philippines, being the sixth biggest fish producer in the world, has an aquaculture production of over $1.58 billion. The fisheries sector also provides direct and indirect employment to over one million people, or about 12 percent of the agriculture sector of the labor force.


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