MAGALLANES, SORSOGON – The Magallanes Fish Sanctuary and Marine Reserve is one of the five marine protected areas (MPA) in Bicol endowed with diverse but globally threatened species. The fish sanctuary, located in Sitio Taliunod to Barugbadugan in Brgy. Biga, measures 57.6 hectares.

Fish visual assessment conducted by the Resources, Environment and Economics Center for Studies Inc. (REECS) in April 2016 showed that fish density, biomass, and fish diversity in and out the Magallanes Fish Sanctuary are in poor condition. According to Nilda Llorera, 55, a fisherman’s wife from Brgy. Biga, fish catch dwindled over the last two decades.

“Noon, madaming huli, ngayon konti na lang. Dati nakakahuli ang asawa ko ng sampung kilo, ngayon, minsan, wala na kahit pang-ulam (We used to catch large amount of fish before. My husband could even catch up to 10 kilos of fish, but now, there are instances that he catches nothing at all even for our own consumption),” she said.

As part of the Philippine Rural Development Project Global Environment Facility (GEF) unit’s intervention, a P1.71 million-worth Seaweeds Production and Marketing Project is now under procurement process. The enterprise development (I-REAP) subproject is designed to reduce fishing pressures in and around the Magallanes Fish Sanctuary and Marine Reserve while MPA rehabilitation is ongoing from 2017 to 2021. It also aims to provide additional income to the beneficiaries in the area.

The PRDP-GEF conducted a hands-on training on diversified seaweeds farming methodologies and culturing systems on April 20 to capacitate the Biga Farmers and Fishermen Association (BFFA) in implementing the I-REAP subproject. About 20 members of the BFFA will establish a 25 x 10 meter seaweeds technology demonstration farm using the floating rope method. According to Ronilo Conde, Aquaculturist II of the Sorsogon Provincial Agriculturist Office, the floating rope method is more climate-resilient and durable unlike the longline method which requires seaweed farmers to re-establish their farm during cultivation period.

Conde related that a seaweed farm using the floating rope method can last for a minimum of five years. He added that seaweeds are most likely to thrive using this method because they are less prone to “ice-ice”, a disease condition of seaweed, and epiphytes in areas with stable water temperature. Marine epiphytes are organisms that grow on other organism and derive their moisture and nutrients from the water in marine environment.

BFFA will manage the seaweeds technology demonstration farm for 45 days. The cooperative targets to harvest five tons of fresh seaweeds which they can sell to prospective buyers.
Conde also encouraged the community to take their active roles in maintaining the seaweeds farm, telling them that seaweeds flourish with tender loving care (TLC).

“Sa PRDP tinawan kami capital para makapundar. Mahalaga ini ta kung kami lang dai mi kayang bakalon ang mga produktong ini. (Through PRDP we received a capital to start with. This is important because we cannot purchase these materials by our own means),” said BFFA officer Comprencio Olitan.

Rosechel Cambal Labilles, PRDP GEF-Bicol Natural Resource Management (NRM) Officer, further boost the community’s enthusiasm by explaining to them the income-generating opportunities through the seaweeds technology demonstration farm.

Sana dae kita mawaran nin pag-asa na magiging positive and successful ang techno-demo kasi may enterprise pa po kamo na seaweeds (We should not lose hope and let us be positive that the techno-demo will be successful because you still have a seaweeds enterprise in the works),” she added.

GEF, one of the World Bank’s trust fund programs with a project grant worth P287 million, aims to strengthen the conservation of the coastal and marine resource base. ### (Annielyn L. Baleza, DA-RAFIS V)

PRDP GEF-Bicol Natural Resource Management (NRM) Officer Rosechel Cambal Labilles and OPAg-Sorsogon Aquaculturist II Ronilo Conde assist the BFFA members in preparing the ropes and seaweed propagules for the seaweeds technology demonstration farm. (Photo by Annielyn L. Baleza, PRDP-Bicol InfoACE Unit)

Biga Farmers and Fishermen Association (BFFA) members carry sacks of seaweed propagules that will be used for their seaweeds technology demonstration farm.

This article is a repost from the Department of Agriculture – Philippine Rural Development Project Official Website

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