By Rjay Zuriaga Castor
Multi-species marine hatcheries will soon be established in the towns of Carles and Concepcion after it has been welcomed by the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Food and Agrarian Reform chaired by Senator Cynthia Villar.
Congressman Raul “Boboy” Tupas, who principally authored the two bills for the said facilities, shepherded its approval during the hearing on May 30, 2023.
The hearing, which was held jointly with the Senate agrarian reform committee, tackled the measures seeking the creation of aquaculture sites in 22 areas in the country.
Tupas said according to feasibility studies conducted by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center, the establishment of these hatcheries will help bridge the significant gap between the supply and demand of milkfish fry and fingerlings in the province of Iloilo and in Western Visayas.
The hatcheries will likewise provide practical training opportunities and hands-on experience in fishery management and operations to students pursuing fishery courses.
Tupas added that the hatcheries will also serve as an income-generating project for the Northern Iloilo State University.
BFAR will initially manage the hatcheries for a period of two years and will be transferred to NISU for ownership and operations.
Villar, who expressed her support for the passage of bills, reminded the authors and sponsors of the bills to submit the required reports and documents to the 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 also emphasized the significance of establishing fish hatcheries in municipalities and rural regions, specifically those inhabited by small-scale fisherfolk.
“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… It will provide seeds to be utilized for aquaculture,” Villar said.
She also emphasized that the aquaculture sector plays a vital role in ensuring the country’s food security, generating employment opportunities and contributing to foreign exchange earnings.