The nine (9) Community Fish Landing Centers in Catanduanes have yet to fully operate, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) admitted last week.
BFAR Catanduanes Provincial Fishery Officer Jorge Camacho told the Tribune in an interview last week that while the CFLC building in Ibong Sapa, Virac has already been completed, his office has yet to endorse the center to the regional office which will facilitate the release of needed equipment for its operation.
Under the project, stalls, two freezers and weighing scales are to be provided by BFAR to the operator of the fish landing center.
Eight other centers are in Bato, Baras, Gigmoto, Viga, Bagamanoc, Pandan, Caramoran and San Andres. San Miguel is a landlocked town while Panganiban already has a wharf so the two municipalities were not given the project under a program of the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) through BFAR.
“This is a big help to the recipient communities,” PFO Camacho stated. “Unfortunately, the other CFLCs are still in the soft operation state and have yet to go full blast.”
However, most are already performing their major function, especially the one in Pananaogan in Baras where fishermen are already unloading their daily catch.
“The CFLC in Baras is okay as the fisherfolk association of 75 members or more are already operating the center based on their manual and by-laws which mandate how the center is maintained and operated,” Camacho added.
The BFAR conducts a seminar for the fisherfolk association members to equip them with the right knowledge and skills on how to run the fish landing center, including financial and technical management, he said.
There is no other basis for an area to be provided with an CFLC but the need for local fishermen to have a place where their fish catch could be delivered and sold.
At least, the required lot should have an area for the center building but also a separate one for the fish catch, to be able to realize its purpose.
“But we leave it to the municipal government and the local agriculture office as they know better where the CFLC could be constructed, with BFAR conducting the site validation,” Camacho said.
What the completed CFLCs in the seven towns need are the respective municipal ordinances supporting the operation of the center.
“Dapat mismong LGU na ang maging masigasig na magka-igwa na sinda ning municipal ordinance ngani maging fully operational na sinda ta sa ordinance ma-base ning mga patakaran ang sarong CLFC,” he stressed.
Caramoran already has an ordinance for its center but the seven others are still in the process of having their draft resolutions approved by the Sangguniang Bayan.
While the CFLCs have been completed, the fisherfolk associations still do not have the capability to manage the center so they are being assisted by their Municipal Agriculture Office.
Until they attain that capability, the center cannot be turned over to the fisherfolk association, Camacho pointed out.
BFAR has detailed to each CFLC in the nine towns a Community Development Officer (CDO) who will assist the association in operating the center but it is not their only job as they are multi-tasking, even going to other government offices.
As for the Virac center at Ibong Sapa, the LGU and the association would have to prepare the documents prior to the turnover of the facility.
The building was supposed to be erected at neighboring San Vicente but the site was deemed not suitable, so it was transferred to Ibong Sapa with the agreement of fishermen from both villages.
“We hope that that our local fishermen in nearby barangays, including the middlemen, will dock and unload their catch there as they would be obliged to do so under the proposed ordinance and in order to get the correct fish catch data,” the BFAR official stressed.
Under BFAR’s umbrella program Targeted Actions to Reduce Poverty and Generate Economic Transformation (TARGET), the CFLC construction is targeted to reduce fisheries post-harvest losses from 25 per cent to 18 per cent.
The CFLCs, each costing P2.85 million, will house post-harvest equipment and tools that will enable fisherfolk to preserve the good quality of their fish and fishery products, which they could sell for a higher price.
Local consumers will also benefit from the fish landing centers as they will have better access to safe and quality fishery commodities. The facilities will also be opened as venues for skills trainings on disaster-resilient fisheries-based livelihoods and resource management such as monitoring fish catch and stock assessment.
Based on NAPC’s recommendation, the areas were assessed based on poverty incidence, municipal density, fish production, number of registered fisherfolk and number of existing fish ports and fish landing areas.