RESPONSIBLE FISHERIES MANAGEMENT. Lawyer Demosthenes Escoto, Officer-in-Charge of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, represents President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. as keynote speaker during the opening of the 45th Meeting of the SEAFDEC Program Committee in Iloilo City on Monday (Dec. 5, 2022). In his statement, Marcos said the organization served as an important forum where member-nations pursue scientific research and share knowledge and responsible management of fisheries and aquaculture resources. (PNA photo by PGLena)

ILOILO CITY – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. underscored the role of the Southeast Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC) in improving the lives of millions of people in Southeast Asia and its continuous commitment to 10 other member-nations in the region.

Marcos, represented by lawyer Demosthenes Escoto, Officer-in-Charge of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), served as keynote speaker during Monday’s opening of the 45th meeting of the SEAFDEC Program Committee (PCM) here, hosted by the Aquaculture Department (AQD).

He said the organization served as an important forum where member-nations pursue scientific research and share knowledge and responsible management of fisheries and aquaculture resources.

“Southeast Asia’s continuing economic growth recovery is a vivid reminder of the pivotal function that the region’s fisheries and aquaculture has been performing in recent years,” Marcos said in his statement read by Escoto.

Marcos said in the next three days, the activities of the various departments of SEAFDEC will be reviewed and evaluated to make sure that their programs complement and do not duplicate and assist in the program formulation of member-countries in various fields of fisheries.

These programs also aim to reach an agreement for their long-term development plan and ensure that the needs of all member-countries are justly reflected in the proposed programs of activities and financial allocations of the various departments, he said.

In a press conference, Escoto said the current administration is trying to invigorate the fisheries sector in the country, including aquaculture, in pushing for food security as one of its major thrusts.

Aquaculture contributes around 52 percent to the country’s fishery sector.

“One of the major collaborations is on legislated hatcheries; the government is targeting the establishment of 54 legislated hatcheries all throughout the country that would propel sufficiency as to fish fry and that would promote at least a substantial contribution of the aquaculture sector to food security,” he said.

SEAFDEC is assisting the BFAR in feasibility studies, training for hatchery operations and research and development.

Escoto said in two to three years’ time, all the target legislated hatcheries are expected to be established and operational.

SEAFDEC/AQD chief Dan Baliao said in addition to legislated hatchery, they are also into establishing a feed mill to have cost-efficient feeds, which when completed will complete the aquaculture component.

He said that 60 percent of production cost goes to feeds alone, deterring aquaculture production.

“We have to come up with formulation that will cost less but efficient. So we have formulated feeds that cost lower than the commercial feed cost. In 2023 we hope that most of these feed mills will be constructed, that depends on the government support,” he added.

The PCM is an annual gathering for the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center in South East Asia to review the past achievements and future activities that will be implemented by the department. (PNA)