DOLE-6 assists seaweed farmers in Antique town

SAN JOSE, Antique – 910 seaweed farmers affected by severe infestation of rabbitfish in their farms in Caluya, Antique received assistance under the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Displaced/Disadvantaged Workers (TUPAD) Program of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Region 6.

The affected seaweed farmers from the island barangays ofHarigue, Sibay, Bonbon and Bacong received emergency employment from DOLE for ten days to provide them with temporary source of income due to an epidemic which resulted in lower yield and productivity of seaweed farms.

The decline is due to the invasion of rabbitfish or “burawis”in seaweed farms. The “burawis” ate and destroye seaweeds.  Though farmers managed to catch tons of rabbitfish almost every day, these predators continue to invade and spread in the seaweed farms.

The local government unit of the municipality of Caluya conducted site validation at Panagatan Islets of Barangay Harigue to determine the impact of the epidemic and found out that a total of 1,687 seaweed farmers were affected with 307,394 seaweed monolines infested and devastated by the rabbitfish in the islets alone.

Around 1,280 seaweed farmers from other barangays were also affected.

Working as TUPAD beneficiaries at minimum wage, the affected seaweed farmers temporarily took a break from seaweed farming and engaged in coastal cleanups, beautification of surroundings, and cleaning of canals and drainage to mitigate dengue infection in their respective barangays.

Caluya is the sole island municipality in Antique.  It is ranked as one of the largest producers of seaweeds in the country.

Seaweed production is one of the major sources of income of the locals.  It has a total area of 1,528 hectares dedicated to seaweed culture. (Donnabelle Baldonado/DOLE-Antique Field Office)