BASILAN STRAIT (MindaNews/09 March)– The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) launched here Saturday the nationwide deployment of fish aggregating devices or payaos for small fishermen operating within the country’s municipal fishing areas.
Lawyer Asis Perez, BFAR national director, said the initiative is part of their ongoing efforts to provide more stable livelihood opportunities for the municipal fishing sector and at the same time help protect and preserve the country’s fishing areas and resources.
“We’re engaging directly with the small fishermen, providing them with the necessary inputs and gears so they could benefit more from our rich fishery resources,” he said.
BFAR initially deployed six units of payaos off the coasts of Lamitan City in Basilan province on Saturday morning to set off the nationwide initiative.
Perez, who personally supervised the deployment of the payaos, initially met with officials of Lamitan City led by Mayor Roderick Furigay at around 8:30 a.m. aboard the agency’s research vessel M/V DA-BFAR to discuss the program and various operational mechanisms.
As agreed, BFAR and Lamitan City personnel jointly installed the six payaos starting 9 a.m. along the city’s municipal waters, specifically at about 4.2 kilometers from the coastline and at a distance of 2.2 kilometers each.
The six payaos were installed off the coasts of Barangays Bulanting, Kulaybato, Balas, Calugusan, Luksumbang and Maloong Canal.
Perez said the payaos, which cost around P180,000 each, will directly benefit 30 to 40 families from the 12 coastal barangays of Lamitan City.
“Each payao will serve two coastal barangays of Lamitan,” he said.
Aside from the six payaos, the official said 24 more will be deployed in the municipal fishing areas of the entire Basilan province within the year.
He said a memorandum of agreement will be signed later on between BFAR-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao as well as the Lamitan local government and the beneficiary-barangays to formalize their linkage.
Furigay promised to mobilize the local government’s personnel and available sea resources to ensure that the payaos will be protected and sustained.
He said they have an active Bantay Dagat or sea patrol unit that regularly monitors the city’s coastal areas.
“This project is really a big help to us here because it addressed our basic needs as a fishery area. It is also designed to directly benefit our poor small fisherfolk,” he said during the meeting.
Asbie Alkie, Barangay Bulanting chair, said he was very excited with the project as it would be the first time for them to operate their own payao.
“We previously managed several payaos here but they were owned by private individuals,” he said.
“We’ll really take care of this because it’s ours,” Alkie stressed.
Perez said they have adopted a monitoring system to ensure that the project will be sustained and possibly expanded later on.
“After this, we will provide you with hook and line fishing gears and other necessary inputs,” he said.
Perez said the agency will also look into the possibility of launching a seaweed production and processing venture in the area to supplement the project.
Meantime, aside from Basilan province, the official said they will also deploy payaos along the municipal waters of Sulu, Tawi-tawi and in other marginalized coastal areas of the country.
“We have 1,400 units of payao in Manila right now that are ready for deployment,” he said.
For this year, Perez said BFAR is targeting to deploy a total of 1,726 payaos and will distribute 28,679 units of gillnets, 9,387 hook and line fishing gears and 2,500 small marine engines to small fishermen throughout the country. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)