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Fisherfolk Can Take Advantage Of Climate Change, Says BFAR

Instead of becoming victims of climate change, the country’s fisherfolk can adapt to this unwanted phenomenon even to their own advantage.

This is the objective behind the many technologies that the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) will showcase in the forthcoming Agrilink, Foodlink and Aqualink, the country’s biggest and most prestigious annual international trade show on agribusiness, food and aquaculture.

BFAR Director Malcolm Sarmiento said his agency, with the help of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and the Department of Agriculture, was embarking on a campaign that would educate the public on how to take advantage of climate change.

The campaign, according to Sarmiento, may include the declaration of a “Climate Change Awareness Week” involving symposia and other public educational activities.

“The rise of sea level resulting from climate change creates wider area for the culture of certain marine species like abalone, sea cucumbers, sea urchins and other varieties of shell and fin fishes that adapt well to extreme shifts in weather patterns,” Sarmiento said.

For similar reasons, some 700 hectares of rice lands in Bulacan and Pampanga have been slowly converted into fishponds for brackish water tilapia because of saline water intrusion.

BFAR is also encouraging fisherfolk to shift from fish hunting to fish farming using its sea cage technology and marlculture parks.

Fisherfolk can rent fish cages from BFAR, which will also provide them with fingerlings, while aquaculture firm Tateh Aqua Feeds will supply them the initial feed requirements.

“Actually, the answer to climate change is farming, not hunting. Climate change affects migratory patterns and spawning processes in the wild, making it hard for fisherfolk to hunt. On the other hand, hatcheries, wherein the weather can be controlled and adjusted, will bring forth continuous breeding and more fruitful yield,” Sarmiento pointed out.

“We are thus teaching the most vulnerable sector – the marginal fishermen – how to adapt to changing weather conditions. We are also teaching them new trades because scientists say that climate change will mostly affect wildlife. So we’re already preparing the fishermen because scientists also agree that they are the most vulnerable to climate change,” Sarmiento added as he stressed its impact on food security on four fronts – availability, stability, access and utilization.

Apart from promoting and educating fisherfolk on the effects of climate change, BFAR plans to import 500 pairs of cold tolerant tilapia from Israel and another 500 pairs of grass-eating tilapia, which Sarmiento believes can help arrest the increasing prices of feeds where fish meal is a major component.

These are just some of the measures that BFAR will unveil at the Agrilink, Foodlink, and Aqualink 2009 slated at the World Trade Center Metro Manila on October 8 to 10.

More information can be obtained from event organizer Foundation for Resource Linkage and Development (tel. +632-8384549, +632-8384852; fax +632-8384573; or email

Supported by 20 national trade associations with ABS-CBN as media partner, the triple events include an international exhibit, technology seminars, live plant and animal display, product demonstrations, marketing presentations, wholesale and retail, and many other business activities.