Ambuklao fisherfolk received postharvest facilities; proper fish handling urged

By: Rodelyn Q. Foronda

To improve proper fish handling of fresh fish after harvest, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources-Cordillera Administrative Region (BFAR-CAR) turned-over a newly constructed fisheries postharvest facilities to the fisherfolk of Ambuklao in Bokod, Benguet on October 3, 2014.

Ambuklao Dam is one of the center of production that is why the fisherfolk sector needs appropriate support from the government. At present, there are 83 fish-cage owners on the six-hectare portion of the reservoir.

According to Atty. Asis G. Perez, National Director, BFAR does not only focus on mere fish production but also on prolonging the freshness of fish through this kind of program.

Because of the increasing production, BFAR found it necessary to put-up postharvest packing shed and concrete easement (fish landing site) for fisherfolk to be able to pack their produce the easiest and most convenient way before they are transported to the market.

He likewise suggested a chest freezer for other marine fishery products like tahong and talaba be available in the Cordilleras as a source of nutrients especially iodine and protein that improves human well-being.

Cordillera fish production, according to Atty. Perez, is up by 8% in 2013 considering the limited resources that the region has.

"We need to intensify the support for the fisherfolk sector which has been neglected in the previous years. The administration has 56 postharvest facilities for fishery sector that are intended for the fishermen. The Philippines has an annual production of 5M tons where 2.8M tons of it is the total fish requirement and 2.2M tons or equivalent of 1.5 Billion dollars (65 Billion peso) are for export," said Atty. Perez.

"Ambuklao Dam is deep water that is why tilapia has its distinct taste and appearance," he added.

In fact, apart from being one of the biggest dams in CAR, it also produces quality and best-tasting tilapia in the region. Thus, many fisherfolk in Benguet depend on tilapia production and have established their cages in the area.

SN Aboitiz Power (SNAP) that manages the dam allowed the activity in support to the livelihood of the locals as part of the Corporate Social Responsibility program of Aboitiz.

BFAR-CAR Regional Director Lilibeth L. Signey assisted Bureau Director, Atty. Perez, in awarding the certificates of turn-over to the fisherfolk beneficiaries and the giving of 10 inboard motor engines. They were joined by Benguet Governor Nestor B. Fongwan and representative of Benguet Congressman Ronald Cosalan. Other guests include BFAR-3 Regional Director Willie Cruz and staff members from other BFAR regional offices.

Bokod, Benguet Mayor Mauricio T. Macay said that the municipality of Bokod is now becoming a tourist belt due to its famous Ambuklao tilapia and other agricultural products.

A response by the president of the fisherfolk association was given by the Vice-President of Bantey Pisek Kiweng Organization Incorporated (BANPIKOI) - a fisherfolk association in Ambuklao thanking the BFAR and LGU officials for the fishery facilities they have received.

With these projects, the Bureau is able to bring fishery services closer to the fisherfolk of Benguet, thus making fisheries an important sector in the province.

The activity was concluded by visiting the other projects implemented in Benguet. This allows the visitors coming from other regions to appreciate the fisheries potential of Cordillera. That is, fish can also flourish in the mountains.