FIBERGLASS FISHING BOATS. The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has embarked on a campaign to teach fishermen how to build their own boats out of resin. The BFAR, in partnership with the Department of Labor and Employment, will conduct boat-making classes for displaced Oriental Mindoro fishermen starting May 15, 2023. (File photo courtesy of Handy Lao Facebook)

CALAPAN CITY, Oriental Mindoro – Fishermen displaced by a recent oil spill in this province will get the opportunity to learn a new skill vital to their line of work, thanks to the joint efforts of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

In an interview on Saturday, Naomi Abellana, DOLE 4-B (Mimaropa) director, said interested fishermen would be schooled in fiberglass boat-making, a 15-day training program for which the participants would be paid for their attendance.

The training will commence on May 15 at BFAR facilities in this city, according to Abellana.

BFAR instructors will conduct the classes.

Abellana added that participating fishermen would receive a daily stipend of PHP355, equivalent to the minimum wage in the region, as they undergo the boat-making classes.

The trainees could also take home the fiberglass boats that they have hand-built at the end of the 15-day program.

Abellana further disclosed that DOLE has plans to expand its fiberglass boat-making program that will also involve the Technical Education and Skills Developments Authority (TESDA).

She said her office is working to give future batches enrolled in the training program TESDA National Certification 2 (NC2) eligibility.

“If they (fishermen) can secure their NC2 eligibility, not only will they be entitled to gain ownership of the boats they make and the stipend, but we can also give them fishing gear as a bonus,” Abellana said in Filipino.

The DOLE, she said, has noted improving productivity among Oriental Mindoro fisher folk after the provincial government on May 8 allowed the resumption of subsistence fishing activities in the towns of Baco, Bongabon, Bulalacao, Mansalay, Puerto Galera, Roxas, and San Teodoro.

The fishing ban was lifted in the seven municipalities after their waters tested within government standards for petroleum contaminants.

However, the fishing ban stays in the waters off the coasts of Bansud, Gloria, Naujan, Pola, and Pinamalayan, as well as the capital Calapan.

Overall, Abellana said, Oriental Mindoro’s employment rate stands at almost 94 percent, while unemployment is at a low of 6.3 percent.

Meanwhile, Danilo Fausto, president of the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food, Inc. said Oriental Mindoro’s overall fish production this season is not likely to be devastated by the capsizing of the oil-laden M/T Princess Empress on February 28.

He explained that much of the province’s fish production is generated via inland aquaculture activities. (PNA).