December 11, 2017
'Philippines needs fisheries department to boost fish production'
The Philippines should create a full-fledged department of fisheries to improve fish production for domestic consumption and for export, an aquaculture expert said.
Scientist Rafael Guerrero, who developed the sex reversal technology used in culturing all-male tilapia, said the creation of a fisheries department would be a "political decision", according to a report by the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Guerrero was recently honored, together with another scientist, by the National Integrated Fisheries Technology Development Centre.
The creation of a fisheries department would also enable the country to take care of its waters, Guerrero said.
The Philippines' fishery sector is at present administered by a bureau of fisheries and aquatic resources, which is under the Department of Agriculture.
"In other countries, government support is there. They have a focus that they really carry through," Guerrero said.
Indonesia, for example, set a ministry of fisheries in 1994, and "the leadership was so dynamic in pursuing aquaculture, especially seaweeds", he said. "So now, they have one million hectares of seaweed farms. We have only 60,000 hectares".
Guerrero also noted that government policies were "not favorable (to the industry) and they kept changing".
Another aquaculture expert, Wilfredo Yap, who is executive director of the Santeh Aquaculture Science and Technology Foundation Inc., lamented that the situation of aquaculture in the country "is rather dismal".
For the past six years, our production has been going down in all species, such as milkfish, tilapia and seaweeds, to the extent that some of our neighbors who came later are now producing more than we do", Yap said.
Yap said the country's tilapia production has remained at 270,000 tonnes annually while Bangladesh, which started producing tilapia in 2010, is producing about 320,000 tonnes a year.
Milkfish production, on the other hand, is about 400,000 tonnes a year, while Indonesia produces 650,000 tonnes, Yap added.