Improved aquaculture needed to plug decline in offshore fishing production — BFAR official

DAGUPAN CITY — The government should give better attention to aquaculture in order to supply the volume of fish needed by the country that could not be provided anymore by offshore fishing.

This was urged by Dr. Westly Rosario, chief of the National Integrated Fisheries Technology and Development Center (NIFTDC), noting that the decline could be due to the continued bullying by Chinese Coast Guard on local fishermen in the West Philippine Sea.

NIFTDC is a research arm of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) based in Dagupan.

Because of the decline in offshore fishing production, Rosario said, the country was forced to import even the fish “galunggong” from China.

It may be only coincidental that it is from China where the Philippines, an archipelagic country, imports “galunggong”, said Rosario, the concurrent chairman of the Fishery Board of the Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC).

China has built an artificial island in the Spratlys as well as laid claims to the Panatag Shoal, which is only 220 kilometers west of Pangasinan into the Philippine Sea.

Rosario said that in order to improve aquaculture, there is a need to improve the country’s more than 100 fishery schools whose some graduates may yet be unprepared to hurdle the examinations being given by fishery board of the PRC.

He hinted that fishery education throughout the country may still be inadequate as gleaned from a number of graduates who fail to pass the fishery examination.

He said the country can boost aquaculture production better if only the existing fishery schools are improved so that they can produce quality graduates that will soon carry out the burden of continuing with various aquaculture projects in inland and brackish water throughout the land.

Rosario noted that the Panatag Shoal, once called Bajo de Masinloc or Scarborough Shoal, used to be rich fishing grounds for Pangasinan and Zambales fishermen.

Now, fishermen from these two provinces are being shooed away by the Chinese Coast Guard that had occupied it ever since China laid claim to the shoal.

Pangasinan fishermen earlier confirmed that it is in the Panatag Shoal where they used to catch plenty of fish of various species which they bring home to shore in Infanta, Pangasinan and which their housewives used to sell in the market.

Unfortunately, they cannot do it any more because of the presence of Chinese Coast Guard personnel in the area who used to train their water cannons on them. PNA/