DA File Photo

MANILA – The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Wednesday said it is in the final stage of getting the approval to implement the Fisheries and Coastal Resiliency (FishCoRe) project worth USD200 million (PHP10 billion) to be funded by the World Bank (WB).

It said some 500,000 fisherfolk and stakeholders in the fisheries and aquaculture sector will benefit in the seven-year project, the first to be implemented by the WB with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) to harness the so-called “blue economy.”

The project aims to support the scaling-up and modernization of the Philippine capture fisheries and aquaculture industry, through the provision of technical support and innovation, access to modern and resilient fisheries infrastructure and post-harvest facilities, and promotion of efficient connectivity and product value addition, among other initiatives.

In a virtual wrap-up meeting, DA Secretary William Dar expressed his gratitude to the WB for giving priority to the FishCoRe Project.

"This has been seen as the DA-BFAR’s medium- to long-term intervention to increase resiliency due to climate change and as a bounce-back strategy for the country’s ‘blue economy’ amid the Covid-19 pandemic,” Dar said.

“We believe that this endeavor would help us propel faster towards attaining the Department’s vision of a food-secure and resilient Philippines with empowered and prosperous farmers and fisherfolk,” he added.

Key growth targets envisioned for the project are a 3 percent increase, respectively, in household income, and value-added fishery commodities; a 5 percent reduction in post-harvest losses; and a 1 to 5 percent reduction in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing incidences.

Dar said the project will be implemented in two Fisheries Management Areas (FMA 6 and 9), covering 11 regions and 24 provinces, with a total area of 32 million hectares of coastal and marine waters.

The coastal waters covered under FMA 6 are off the West Philippine Sea including Pagudpud Bay, Subic Bay, Manila Bay to Lubang Island.

FMA 9 covers the coastal and marine waters in Bohol Sea, Panguil Bay, Iligan Bay, Gingoog Bay, Butuan Bay, and Sogod Bay.

The DA-BFAR has divided the Philippine archipelago into 12 FMAs, where it would implement area-specific policies and initiatives to sustainably manage fishery resources through a science-based and participatory governance framework.

“We are optimistic that the FishCoRe Project will be able to establish examples of good governance mechanisms, leading to better management of the ‘blue resources’ and aquaculture development in two FMAs,” Dar said.

The WB has been supportive of the project since negotiations started in early 2020.

In a previous letter to Dar, WB Country Director Achim Fock stated their full support to the goals of the FishCoRe Project to sustainably improve the incomes of Filipino fisherfolk "and support resilient coastal communities through enhanced ecosystem management, productivity-enhancing technologies, aquaculture, reduced post-harvest losses, value-chain infrastructure, and related activities.”

The DA-BFAR will be the main implementing agency for the FishCoRe Project, which is expected to commence early next year. (PNA)