July 21, 2016
Philippine aquaculture seeks to spur growth in 2-day 'Aquatech' event
"The Philippines is in a good position to be a leading player in regional aquaculture."
Thus said Senator Cynthia Villar, chair of the Philippine Senate committee on agriculture and food on Wednesday, July 20, in her keynote address at the opening of Aquatech Philippines in the resort city of Tagaytay south of Manila.
Having one of the world's longest coastlines, Villar said the Philippines ranks seventh among the top fish-producing countries in the world and ninth in aquaculture production of fish, crustaceans and mollusks.
But the Philippines apparently is not living up to its full potentials. For example, in milkfish production it used to consistently maintain its rank of being the world's No. 1 producer. Today, it has been overtaken by Indonesia, which lately is rising as an aquaculture powerhouse.
Villar told the gathering of participants in the aquaculture expo and convention, many of whom were entrepreneurs, exhibitors and aquaculture experts, that they needed to keep the momentum going and further boost the industry, considering that the archipelagic nation had "so much to offer and a lot of room for further expansion".
Villar, nevertheless, cited several gains that the local fishery and aquaculture industries had recently made including successfully convincing the EU to get rid of red card hoisted over it when it strengthened its drive against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUUF), and enacting a law-signed by former President Benigno Aquino III before he bowed out of office-mandating the establishment of 14 hatcheries in 14 selected coastal provinces.
She said these hatcheries will be set up by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources this and next year in Cebu, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Catanduanes, Agusan del Norte, Sultan Kudarat, Lanao del Norte, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Biliran, Eastern Samar, Western Samar, Northern Samar and Zamboanga del Norte.
These hatcheries, she said, will be the sources of fingerlings.
Villar also urged the participants to boost the local aquaculture industry's competitiveness, "especially since the regional economic integration under the Asean Economic Community or AEC is upon us".
"The AEC will bring about more business opportunities", she said, noting that its 10 member countries have an aggregate economic size of US$2.3 trillion and a combined population of 616 million. "That is a very sizeable market to tap," she told the opening-day gathering. "And by continually improving your strategies and innovating your systems, you will be more equipped to seize those opportunities".