The Committee on Agriculture, Food and Agrarian Reform chaired by Senator Cynthia Villar tackled on Tuesday measures seeking to establish 22 fish hatchery sites in different parts of the country.
During the hearing, Villar stressed the importance of fish hatcheries in municipalities and other rural areas where small fisherfolk reside.
“It is used to locally produce fingerlings to be given to small fisherfolk. It is also necessary for the propagation of certain marine species to address the country’s dependence on imported fingerlings like Bangus, Tilapia, Mangrove Crabs, Pampano, Shrimp, Lapu-lapu, Danggit and other high value marine species. It will provide seeds to be utilized for aquaculture,” Villar said.
The aquaculture sector, she emphasized, plays a vital role in ensuring the country’s food security, generating employment opportunities and contributing to foreign exchange earnings.
Villar cited the substantial growth of aquaculture surpassing the captured fisheries which is seen to lead to the development of fisheries industry in general by providing support to the aquaculture industry.
The Philippines Statistics Authority reported in 2022 that aquaculture industry contributed 2.246 million metric tons (MT) out of 4.248 million MT total fishery production or 54.15 percent.
For the first quarter of 2023, the contribution of aquaculture further increased to 55 percent or 545,640 MT out of the 991,140 MT total fishery production.
With this, Villar said it is critical for the government to give importance to the industry of aquaculture farming.
Several bills that have been filed seek to establish multi-species marine hatcheries in Leyte, Agusan del Sur, Zamboanga de Norte, Biliran, Negros Occidental, Iloilo, Lanao del Norte, Camarines Sur, Basilan, Cavite, Zamboanga City, Davao del Sur, Cebu, La Union and Catanduanes.
She reminded the authors and sponsors of these bills about the significance of submitting the required reports and documents to submit them to Senate.
“Please note that the House Bills lacking the necessary requirements will not be included in the committee report to be issued by this Committee. However, this does not preclude you from making future submissions in compliance with the requirements,” Villar said.
Before a measure establishing a local marine hatchery can be passed, the following submissions are required: (a) a Site Pre-Feasibility Assessment, (b) a comprehensive Feasibility Study Report, (c) a Report on the Tenurial Status of the proposed hatchery location, and (d) titles and documents demonstrating that there are no issues with the Land Tenurial status.
Villar said that so far, she was able to sponsor a total of 41 laws establishing legislated hatcheries across 57 different sites nationwide and pushed as well for an increased budget of PHP835 million to be allocated to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources intended to support the agency in completing all these legislated hatcheries. (PNA)