From DA: BFAR-7 head still hopeful on agency’s separation

Kristine B. Quintas/NSA (The Freeman) - January 3, 2016 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Another year has ended, but the measure separating the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources from the Department of Agriculture is still pending in Congress.

BFAR assistant regional director Allan Poquita is still hopeful though that a law establishing BFAR as an executive department, thereby detaching from its mother agency (DA), would still be passed soon.

He explained that the call for separation is beneficial for BFAR since they will attain “autonomy” aside from getting a separate budget.

He added that the move for the creation of another executive department would ensure the sustenance of the country’s fishery industry and will help ensure more focus and attention to the fishing industry from the national government.

 “We can also have a more focused developments if we are no longer a line bureau of DA,” Poquita said.

He cited that they can expand their programs, such as training services, unit support technical assistance, aquaculture and other developments.

“Mas mapalapdan gyud ang atong mga programs,” he said.

 Poquita said it will also strengthen ongoing efforts by BFAR to properly manage the country’s vast fishery areas and resources.

He noted that the Philippines has about 36,289 kilometers of coastline, which is considered the longest by any nation in the world, and around 171 million hectares of territorial sea that is endowed with bountiful fishery resources.

A significant number of Filipinos are engaged in fishing as their primary source of livelihood and that the industry contributes significantly to the country’s economy and food security and provides direct employment for over a million people, Poquita said.

He further cited the need for the country to properly adhere with the principles of sustainable fisheries by doing more responsive fisheries resource management; planning and seriously implementing a fishery management plan with the cooperation of concerned industry sector; and exploring alternative measures to protect and conserve our fishing resource.

However, lawyer Asis Perez, BFAR national director, earlier said that with the agency’s current personnel strength pegged at about 1,000, it has at least one assigned employee per six islands or one employee for every 1,188 hectares of the total coastal area that it covers.

Perez said BFAR could barely deal with its adopted 50,000 hectares of fishery areas covered by a Fisheries Lease Agreement due to the lack of manpower.

The proposed Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources will be given jurisdiction over commercial fishing, marine and coastal tourism, and underwater oil exploration.

DA earlier has already interposed its objections on the move to transform BFAR into a separate executive department.

It said that it will be a big loss to DA if BFAR is detached from them because fishing industry is contributing at least P200 billion to the government in terms of income per year. DA also reported that shell craft industry is also contributing P780 million per year and is involving 1.5 million people.

Senator Manuel Villar Jr. earlier filed a bill in the Senate for the creation of a separate department for BFAR.

 Four different versions on the proposal were filed in the House of Representatives by Representatives Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of Pampanga, Luis Villafuerte of Camarines Sur, Arthur Yap of Bohol and Lorenzo Tañada of Quezon.

The proposed measure was initially filed in the 15th Congress but eventually failed to take off.

It was refiled last July 9, 2013 by Sorsogon (2nd district) Representative Deogracias Ramos and was referred on July 29 to the committee on government reorganization and secondarily referred to the committee on aquaculture and fisheries resources.  (FREEMAN)

 

ACIRC ALLAN POQUITA ARTHUR YAP OF BOHOL AND LORENZO TA ASIS PEREZ BFAR BUREAU OF FISHERIES AND AQUATIC RESOURCES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES AND AQUATIC RESOURCES FISHERIES LEASE AGREEMENT HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES POQUITA
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