19 February 2010

Fisher folks get P4-M assistance from SBMA

Fishermen in the Subic Bay area received a P4-million financial assistance from the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) on Monday as part of the authority’s commitment to sustainable development of the Subic Bay area.

SBMA chairman Feliciano Salonga and SBMA administrator Armand Arreza turned over the fund to Laureano Artagame and Daniel Mejia, the chairmen of the Subic Bay and Olongapo City Integrated Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Councils (IFARMC), respectively.

The two organizations represent all fisher folk associations and fisher folk communities in areas surrounding Subic Bay. These include fishermen in Morong, Bataan, Olongapo City, and the municipalities of Subic and San Antonio in Zambales.

According to Salonga, SBMA granted the assistance in fulfillment of the agency’s responsibility to communities affected by the development of the Subic Bay Freeport.

“As we develop the bay—implementing in the process such projects like the Subic port modernization and the Hanjin shipyard—we have closed off some areas that were previously fishing grounds used by local fishermen,” Salonga explained.

“This assistance is one way whereby the SBMA contributes to the welfare of fisher folks in the Subic Bay area,” he added.

Arreza said meanwhile that the SBMA and the Subic Bay IFARMC (SB-IFARMC) forged an agreement in August last year for the provision of assistance to local fishing communities whose fishing areas have somewhat dwindled due to the growing maritime trade, as well as the development of shorelines, foreshores and adjacent areas in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.

“We’re not just concerned about attracting investors to the Subic Bay Freeport,” Arreza stressed. “The SBMA also has a very strong presence in corporate social responsibility, and this is just part of our program,” Arreza added.

Under the agreement, the SBMA committed a total of P4 million to be sourced from the Environmental Guarantee Fund (EGF), which was created as a condition for the issuance of permits for the Subic port development and Hanjin shipyard projects.

The P4-million assistance is broken down into four components: P2.3 million for the establishment of artificial reefs to take the place of former fishing areas; P.7 million for the operating expenses of the SB-IFARMC; P.5 million for a scholarship fund to deserving SB-IFARMC members and their immediate families; and P.5 million to fund livelihood programs for SB-IFARMC members and their families.

The SB-IFARMC was created under Republic Act No. 8550, otherwise known as the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998. (SBMA Corporate Communications)

PHOTO: SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza (left) and SBMA Chairman Feliciano Salonga (right) ahnd over the P4-million assistance to IFARMC chairmen Laureano Artagame and Daniel Mejia.