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BFAR kicks off 57th Fish Con Week
September 14, 2020 

QUEZON CITY—BFAR celebrates 57th Fish Conservation Week today. Following the opening season in the Davao Gulf two weeks ago, this annual activity aims to intensify awareness on the need to conserve and protect fisheries and aquatic resources of the country. 

The Fish Conservation Week, which is being commemorated every third week of October in the past, is now being celebrated every September each year by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 316, series of 2017. Due to the State of National Health Emergency, the opening program was held virtually via zoom.
President Rodrigo R. Duterte's message was read by the Agri Chief, Sec. William Dar. The President recognized the contribution of the local coastal communities, local government units, and partners in the civil society in maintaining and managing our fisheries resources. He also encouraged to be consistent in ensuring sustainability in normalizing good fishery practice.
"I enjoin the local community executives and all Filipinos to practice and normalize good fishery practice and ensure sustainability," the President said.
In this time of pandemic, BFAR rolls out a timely theme to commemorate the 57th Fish Conservation Week that is "Karagatan ay Pangalagaan upang Ani at Kita ay Makamtan maging sa Gitna ng Pandemya Hamon sa Bayan," which reflects Usec. Gongona's vision to increase fisheries production and the Agri Chief's campaign for a bountiful harvest and prosperous farmers and fisherfolk while giving utmost regard to protecting the seas and the aquatic resources. Secretary William Dar underscored the 0.9% increase in the fisheries production this second quarter only, having a share of 16% of the total agricultural output.
These statistics show the promising realization of the agri chief's efforts to achieving "Masaganang Ani at Mataas na Kita". In this time of pandemic, the agri chief also urged to remain positive and resilient. He also recognized the significance of taking care of our seas and even our inland waters. "We recognize the significance of taking care of our seas and even our inland waters to ensure food security amidst the Covid-19 pandemic," Dar said. The Undersecretary for Fisheries and concurrent BFAR National Director also pointed out that the government did not falter despite the lurking threats of the Coronavirus disease.
"We didn't falter to provide the much-needed services to our stakeholders and the Filipino public—even in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic," Usec. Gongona underscored.
MMK: National Search for Oustanding Coastal Community
As a way of managing the marine resources efficiently, BFAR steps up its partnerships with various local governments who have a mandate over the municipal waters under their respective jurisdiction.
For the past few years, it has implemented various conservation programs to holistically address the recurring and emerging problems concerning the fisheries sector at the municipal level.
One of these programs is the Malinis at Masaganang Karagatan (MMK): The National Search for the Country's Outstanding Coastal Community.
This program aims to rehabilitate and protect the municipal waters by implementing an effective mangrove protection and rehabilitation program, maintaining a clean, coastal waters without any garbage or industrial wastes flowing to the sea, local declaration of marine protected areas, observance of the closed fishing season, and zero illegal fishing in their respective municipal waters.
Dar underscored the significance of MMK in promoting the protection and conservation of the country's coastal marine resources.
"The MMK or the National Search for Most Outstanding Coastal Communities is the government's sole approach in promoting the protection and conservation of the country's coastal and marine resources by incentivizing coastal communities with outstanding coastal resource management initiatives," Dar further said.
Furthermore, Usec. Gongona expressed his trust in the program.
"Buo ang ating pagnanais na sa pamamagitan ng MMK ay darating ang panahong lahat ng baybaying-komunidad dito sa Pilipinas ay magiging maunlad, masagana ang yamang-katubigan, at nakakaangat ang kabuhayan at pamumuhay ng mga mangingisda," Usec. Gongona said. Aside from MMK, Usec. Gongona also stressed out that taking care of the welfare of the fisheries and aquatic resources is also extended among the youths. For this year, the Undersecretary for Fisheries recognized the winner for the community-based radio station contest—Ang Bibong Kabataang Tagapagpakinig at Manunulat. "Patunay lamang na ang pangangalaga sa yamang-katubigan at pangisdaan ay walang pinipiling edad," he said.
Meanwhile, President Duterte recognized the winners for winning last year's MMK.
"Binabati ko ang lahat na nagwagi sa nakaraang taong Malinis at masaganang Karagatan: Search for Most Outstanding Coastal Communities," the President said.
Hailed as the 2019 winners of the annual MMK national contest were Lobo, Batangas, Dingalan, Aurora, and Bacolod, Lanao del Norte.
Along with the winners of 2019 MMK and the community-based radio station contest, other outstanding individuals and groups were also recognized during the opening of the Fish Con Week.
Alongside with these LGUs, Jayferson Cornelio of Sibalom, Antique won the Bibong Kabataang Tagapakinig at Manunulat contest. Ellarnie Sumagaysay of Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat placed next, while Joyce Mae Molina of Casiguran, Aurora ranked third. Other winners, partners in the local government and law enforcement, and partners in the civil society were also awarded and recognized during the opening ceremony.
The agri chief also congratulated the winners and encouraged the coastal communities in implementing and normalizing good coastal resource management initiatives.
"We are encouraging our more than 900 coastal communities in the Philippines in implementing and normalizing good coastal resource management in their respective areas to ensure the sustainability of our valuable coastal and marine resources," the agri chief said.
Towards the end of Usec. Gongona's speech, he left a charge to all BFAR employees across the nation to take courage and remain committed during this difficult time."I enjoin everyone to take courage at this difficult time and remain committed to our cause of protecting the sustainability and integrity of our fisheries resources while ensuring a food-secure Philippines with prosperous fisherfolk," Usec. Gongona said.(IEC)
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