Interest in fisheries courses lukewarm–BFAR

DAVAO CITY MindaNews/6 July) – The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has lamented the apparent lack of interest in fisheries courses even after enrollment in the nursing course had taken a nosedive in the last six years.

Asis G. Perez, BFAR director, said they are promoting higher enrollment in fisheries courses now that the nursing course is “no longer the fad” among college students.

He asserted the nursing course has deprived other courses, stressing that the past high demand for Filipino nurses lured millions of Filipino students to enter even spurious colleges offering nursing courses.

But with the fall of the nursing course as a preferred course, many other courses like mining and especially agriculture and forestry courses, have to exert efforts to attract the students again with scholarship and assured employment.

The fisheries course was not exempted.

During the last board examination, only 87 passed, and so far, the Professional Regulations Commission have only around 500 licensed fisheries professionals in the active roster, Perez said.

“No one is enrolling in the fisheries anymore, and some schools have to close their offering [of this course],” he told reporters here.

For the BFAR, though a small line agency, the dearth in the number of fisheries graduates was a concern.

“Actually, we have a scope of responsibility that is six times bigger than the land area of the country. And that excludes the 200-kilometer exclusive economic zone,” Perez said, referring to the municipal waters that are within 15 kilometers from the shoreline.

To encourage fresh interest in the course, he said that he would ask the 800 local governments in the coastal areas “to open up at least one post on fisheries officer”.

“There’s always the implied assumption that anything that concerns the marine and aquatic resources is the sole responsibility of the BFAR. The fact is that this has been devolved to the LGUs, especially the concern on municipal waters,” he said.

That means, he added, that these LGUs have as much concern to have at least one fisheries officer.

To further persuade the LGUs, he said that the BFAR is willing to shoulder 50 percent of the salary of its fisheries officer for the next two years.

“This would already assure the employment of 800 graduates,” he added.

He said that government might also persuade schools to offer scholarship or subsidized tuition to students enrolled in fisheries courses. (MindaNews)