Congress passed into law 11 local bills for the establishment of multi-species marine hatcheries in various locations nationwide.
The bills were sponsored by Senator Cynthia Villar during the 18th Congress.
Villar, the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, has pushed for these measures to be enacted into law due to the high agriculture poverty incidence in the fisheries sector.
“The productivity of our marine fisheries resources has been declining because of environmental degradation and ineffective natural resources management,” Villar said, adding that “the significant reduction in the country’s fish catch, Villar said, has compromised food sufficiency and income of our people.”
Furthermore, the country’s fisheries sector provides an inexpensive source of animal protein for the population, livelihood for over one million Filipinos, and generates foreign exchange.
“With the growing population of the Philippines, fishing is one of the major industries seen as a positive contributor to the developing economy,” Villar said, adding that “thus the need for hatcheries be established in our country which provides the seed for aquaculture and some commercial fisheries.”
“A hatchery is where fish and shellfish are spawned, hatched, and cared for. They remain at the hatchery until they are large enough to be transferred to a fish or shellfish farm or released into the wild as part of a stock enhancement program,” Villar said.
The fishing industry sectors- commercial, aquaculture, and shellfish farms require a steady, predictable source of juveniles from hatcheries to stay in operation and provide a consistent product.
The mangrove crab or Alimango farming industry delves in the trade of a high-value resource that accounts for a Php 5.2 billion industry, and huge demand and high value in the international market. They too need a steady source of crackers.
In 2019, BFAR said 860.75 million fries were produced by registered bangus hatcheries in the country while 19.5 million were caught in the wild. This only accounts for 24 percent of the total annual fry requirement.
To compensate, bangus fish farmers are forced to import fry to sustain annual production.
“The BFAR also said tilapia fry and fingerling production was 208.35 million in 2020 while the annual demand is 2.1 billion tilapia fingerlings,” further stated the senator.