The government will draw up a 10-year fisheries road map, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said over the weekend.
Piñol said the Department of Agriculture and stakeholders would convene next month to prepare for the development a road map that will identify the needs and priorities of the fishery sector.
He said the road map would pinpoint the problems and challenges in the fisheries industry and the required government interventions.
“While the Philippines ranks first among the countries of the world with the longest coastal lines at 39,284 kilometers, the country continues to import fisheries and aquatic products to fill the needs of the local market,” Piñol said.
He said among the biggest problems confronting the fisheries and aqua industries were the depleted freshwater fish sources because of overfishing and destructive fishing practices.
“This results in added pressure on the traditional fishing grounds in the coastal areas because of the need of people for more protein,” said Piñol.
He said the country also loses P3 trillion every year to illegal fishing, including poaching by foreign and more modern fishing fleets.
“Many of these poachers are now operating in the 25-million hectare Philippine Rise, formerly called the Benham Rise, which has been acknowledged by the United Nations as part of the continental shelf of the Philippines,” said Piñol.
He said the road map would institutionalize the initiative of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources that awards the cleanest coastal communities.
“It is also expected to institutionalize the Project BASIL or Balik Sigla sa Ilog at Lawa which involves the seeding of lakes, rivers and creeks with indigenous and non-invasive fish species fingerlings,” said Piñol.
He said the road map would also identify the rich fishing grounds of the country and establish post-harvest facilities, like ice plants and cold storage.