24 April 2011

Festival bats for recognition of local fishers

MORONG, Bataan — Local fishermen called on the government to recognize the importance of the fishing industry in the Philippine economy and to place importance on the protection of marine resources during the recent “Araw ng Mangingisda” celebration held at Barangay Sabang in this town.

The event featured activities like fun run, coastal clean-up, fluvial parade, galunggong cooking contest, and parlor games that were lined up for residents and visitors alike in the two-day program held on April 14-15.

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), which manages part of Morong town under the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, gave its full support to the Sabang festival. SBMA public relations manager Armie Llamas served as a judge in the cooking contest, while the SBMA brass band rendered musical entertainment during the fluvial parade.

Sabang, which is located along the coast of this town, relies on fishing as its major source of income. The major product of resident-fishers is the “galunggong” or mackerel scad (Decapterus macarellus), which is a common food fish in local markets.

Restituto del Rosario, chairman of the Morong Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Management Council (FARMC) and 2008 Gawad Saka awardee for fish capture, said the local galunggong season usually starts in February and continues throughout March and April.

But he lamented that the fishing industry is not being recognized as an important part of the economy and is not regarded as a major industry.

“Kailangang makilala ang pangingisda bilang isang malaking industriya,” Del Rosario said.

Apart from batting for recognition of fisher folk, Del Rosario also wants the people to be aware of their responsibilities in taking care of the environment, particularly the sea.

Del Rosario said that changes in the climate is affecting the fishing season. He said that the “amihan” or the northeast wind, which is supposed to end by mid-February, has just ended in April, thus delaying the fishing season by more than a month. This delay reduced their fish catch by almost half, he said.

Normally, the average galunggong haul that local fishers make reaches one to two tons per day during the galunggong season.

At the same time, Del Rosario recognized the SBMA as one of the agencies, which provide assistance to the Sabang fishing village. He said that SBMA gave a P4-million grant recently to rehabilitate the coastal area and to provide aid for fishermen.

“SBMA has always been supportive of our programs here,” Del Rosario said.

He added that they have recently asked the SBMA Ecology Center for technical assistance in conducting studies for the marine protected area project that they are now undertaking.

Meanwhile, Morong vice mayor Bienvenido Vicedo Jr. said the festival is also a good avenue for promoting the products of Morong, particularly galunggong.

Vicedo also said that the local government of Morong had tied up with the Department of Labor and Employment to provide assistance to fishermen, setting up the “Sapaw” group and giving them P1-million worth of boats and equipment to help them in their trade. (SBMA Corporate Communications)

Fishermen get ready for the fluvial parade during the “Araw ng Mangingisda” celebration in Sabang, Morong, Bataan.