The World Bank (WB) has approved a loan for a project that aims to improve the country’s fisheries output and increase the income of local fishers.
The Washington-based multilateral lender said its board of executive directors has given the nod for a $176-million loan for the Philippine Fisheries and Coastal Resiliency Project (FISHCORE).
The lender said FISHCORE seeks to improve fisheries management, enhance the value of fisheries production, and elevate incomes in selected coastal communities.
Despite the importance of the fisheries sector, WB said it has faced challenges with fish stocks which declined by an average of 20 percent over the past decade due to “over-exploitation, destructive fishing methods, habitat degradation, and negative impacts from land-based activities.”
Through FISHCORE, WB said the Philippine government aims to “counter” these trends and support sustainable growth in the fisheries sector.
“This project aligns with the country’s commitment to environmentally sound practices in fishing and aquaculture expansion while ensuring improved incomes for those involved in the fishing industry—including those involved in production, processing and marketing,” Ndiamé Diop, World Bank Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand said in a statement on Wednesday.
FISHCORE seeks to “broaden” both domestic and international opportunities for fishery products, ensuring a reliable supply of fish for national food security and nutrition, and boosting competitiveness of small and medium fishery enterprises, ensuring compliance with relevant laws and regulations, according to the lender.
Beyond the fishers themselves, the international financial institution said a “wide range” of people involved in the fisheries and aquaculture industry are expected to benefit from this project.
“This includes fishing gear and aquaculture equipment providers, cold chain suppliers, seafood processors, and market operators and exporters, many of whom are located outside the immediate project area.”
According to the World Bank, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has created 12 Fisheries Management Areas (FMAs) nationwide, with the goal of managing fishery resources “sustainably and in an environmentally friendly way.”
WB said FISHCORE will be implemented in two of these FMAs, namely FMA 6 and FMA 9, which are major fishing grounds on the northwest coast of Luzon, and in archipelagic waters between the Visayas and Mindanao.
“FISHCORE will support the Philippine government in designing and establishing improved fisheries management systems in the selected FMAs’ coastal and municipal waters,” WB Senior Environmental Economist Jingjie Chu said.
“The funding will be utilized to support fisheries management and law enforcement, capacity building, infrastructure resilient to extreme weather conditions, and other necessary investments to balance increasing productivity while conserving the natural resources in these FMAs.”
The fisheries sector currently contributes 1.3 percent to the Philippines’s GDP and provides approximately 1.6 million jobs or around 4 percent of labor force, including for low-income families engaged in subsistence fishing. It also provides over 50 percent of Filipino families’ sources of protein, according to WB.
Image credits: www.da.gov.ph