With the Senate set to approve on third and final reading 14 bills creating multi-species marine hatcheries, Senator Cynthia Villar said aquaculture will now have a needed boost in the provinces.
“It is not surprising that aquaculture now has an uptrend globally given the dwindling catch from the wild. With the creation of these hatcheries and more in the future, our people are now assured of a source of food,” Villar said.
After hurdling the second reading last week, the Senate is set to vote on 14 bills seeking the creation of marine hatcheries in various municipalities in Quezon, Surigao del Sur and Albay on third reading.
The lady legislator, chair of the Committee on Agriculture and Food and principal sponsor of the measures, said marine hatcheries will contribute to the growth and development of the fisheries sector and allied industries in the respective cities and municipalities.
“This also presents an opportunity for our fisherfolks to undergo training and improve present practices to improve productivity,” the lady lawmaker added.
Aquaculture is defined as the farming of aquatic organisms such as fish and shellfish for human consumption or commercial purposes. It is also used to restore threatened and endangered marine species.
Under the bills, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources will construct the hatcheries. Within two years, management will be transferred to the local government concerned after implementing a training and phasing-in program.
The lady senator cited the study of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization saying 20 years ago, 70% of our fish production came from the ocean and 30% from aquaculture. At present, fish production is 50% wild catch and 50% aquaculture.
“Overfishing is a major concern globally, with experts issuing warnings that if sustainable fishing is not practiced and oceans are not given time to recover, they could become ‘virtual deserts’ by 2050 or barely 33 years from now,” she said.
Villar noted that the Philippines, being the sixth biggest fish producer in the world, has an aquaculture production of over US$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.