T.A.R.G.E.T. program benefits 33, 206 fisherfolk nationwide

By: Rodelyn Q. Foronda

After the series of implementation of the National Program for Municipal Fisherfolk Registration (FishR) in the country, the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources has now launched another national program for the fisherfolk sector dubbed as T.A.R.G.E.T. (Targeted Actions to Reduce Poverty and Generate Economic Transformation in the Fishery Sector) and BoatR (municipal fishing vessels and gears registration).

The TARGET program is a concrete step of the government in realizing the inclusive growth and poverty alleviation agenda of the Aquino administration, particularly in the fishery sector. Equipped with the necessary metric and registries, it will deliver targeted actions or interventions in an effort to improve the livelihood of the identified fisherfolk population and eventually lessen the incidence of poverty.

This effort will be carried out through enhanced fishery law enforcement and strengthened regulatory activities to address illegal, unreported, unregulated fishing (IUUF) under Executive Order No. 154. EO No. 154 was signed by President Aquino which adapted the Philippine National Plan of Action in creating the Philippine committee on IUUF to lessen incidence of IUUF in the country, adding more sanctions and penalties for violations. Said added sanctions are intended for commercial and deep sea fishing companies.

"We really need to address important issues related to the fishery sector that also have an impact socially, politically, and environmentally in our country," said Senator Cynthia Villar.

"We need to maintain a good balance between the requirements for increased production to contribute to food security against the need to conserve and protect our resources for long term sustainability," she added.

Senator Villar sponsored the Senate Bill 2414, an act strengthening the regulatory and enforcement function of BFAR amending for the purpose Republic Act No. 8550, otherwise known as the "Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998".

Senator Villar also noted the efforts of BFAR and DA in addressing the booming poverty incidence of the country by targeting the poorest of the poor in the fisherfolk sector.

"I chose the chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food because this is my advocacy on poverty reduction where these local farmers and fisherfolk belong. We are agricultural country and two-thirds of the population is directly or indirectly involve in agricultural sector. From 33 million workers, 11 million of which are agricultural workers," Sen. Villar added.

Inclusive growth, according to Villar, encompasses not only the gross national product (GNP) which is almost 7% but also the need to let the less fortunate feel this economic growth and development through this kind of program.

Generally, the TARGET program focuses on the following components: Livelihood, Resource Enhancement, Resource Management and Protection, and Postharvest and Marketing Support.

This program covers the 20% or 33, 206 of the 166, 000 fisherfolk whose names appear on the DA-BFAR's FishR and that of the DSWD's National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction.

With 1.8 million estimated total number of fisherfolk in the country, the impact of targeted actions or interventions to 33, 206 fisherfolk would mean 4% reduction from poverty incidence rate of 39.2% in the fisherfolk sector.

The national program launching of TARGET was held in Tanza, Cavite.