By Max Sudnovsky
Upon the request of the Philippines’ Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), NOAA partnered with the USAID-supported Ecosystems Improved for Sustainable Fisheries (ECOFISH) Project to conduct an Essential Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management (EAFM) training at the BFAR’s Asian Fisheries Academy, in Bonuan Binloc, Dagupan City. Located on the coast of the Lingayen Gulf in the Philippines, 200 km north of Manila, Dagupan City is known as the “Kitchen of the North” for it’s famous dishes including bangus (milkfish), pigar-pigar (deep fried beef), and kaleskes (innards stew).
The week of October 19, Dr. Adel Heenan and Max Sudnovsky of the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center’s (PIFSC) Coral Reef Ecosystem Division (CRED), along with Dr. Robert Pomeroy, University of Connecticut Sea Grant, trained a total of 26 participants from BFAR Regional Fisheries Offices, provincial governments, state colleges, and universities, as well as members of the ECOFISH Project. The training team was enhanced by the expertise of Dr. Romeo Cabungcal, as co-lead trainer, and assisted by BFAR’s Abigail Javier and Karen Candilosas, all of whom were previously trained as Essential EAFM trainers.
The training was a compressed 4-day schedule of the standard 5-day Essential EAFM course for the Filipino participants. The fifth day was devoted to a workshop facilitated by the ECOFISH Project to enhance and customize the Essential EAFM training course modules for the Philippines. Selected by the BFAR for their extensive knowledge on fisheries management and their proven skills as trainers, the participants will later on be tapped to lead Essential EAFM training courses within and outside the agency. At the Opening Ceremony, speaking on behalf of BFAR Director Atty. Asis Perez, Dr. Westly Rosario, Training Center Director of the National Integrated Fisheries Technology Development Center, aptly challenged the participants “to leave behind a legacy” of training others toward the full implementation of an ecosystem approach to fisheries management pursuant to sustainable development.
An appropriate location for an EAFM training, Dagupan recently launched the “One Barangay, One Fish” project in the villages of Salapingao, Pugaro, Calmay, Pantal, and Lomboy. This project aims to motivate traditional fish farmers to shift from bangus to other high-value fish species in order to increase their earning potential. One family was selected per village and given one medium-sized floating fish cage made from local materials and fingerlings of talakitok, malaga siganid (rabbitfish), sea bass, and lapu-lapu (grouper). The program aims to help marginal fisherfolk maintain their own livelihoods and become self-sufficient.