REP. Ron P. Salo expressed confidence that the proposed creation of the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DFAR) will be realized this Congress after a similar measure has been consistently filed since the 13th Congress.
“After several attempts in the past on the creation of a department specifically focused on developing our fisheries and aquatic resources, I am confident that we are nearer its realization in this Congress,” Salo said.
“It was highlighted as a priority measure of the House in a recent pronouncement by Speaker Martin Romualdez. This support from the House Leadership will certainly provide the needed momentum in facilitating the passage of this measure,” Salo added.
It can be recalled that Rep. Salo was the technical working group (TWG) chairperson on behalf of the Committee on Government Reorganization in crafting the DFAR bill in the last Congress. He was requested to be the Vice-Chair of the TWG created again to craft the latest version of the bill in a committee hearing held on Wednesday, November 9, 2023, by the House Committee on Government Reorganization joint with the Committee on Aquaculture and Fisheries Resources.
“Our country is a nation of over 7,100 islands with a sprawling coastline that stretches across 36,289 kilometers. Fishing is deeply woven into the fabric of our society, providing employment and nourishment to millions. As of May 2022, this industry employs approximately 1.4 million Filipino fishing operators nationwide,” Rep. Salo said.
“Yet, as we assess the global trends in aquaculture production, it is evident that the Philippines’ position has diminished from 4th place in 1985 to 12th place in 2022. The Philippines now contributes just over one percent (1%) of global farmed fish production compared to its original share of five percent (5%),” Rep. Salo added.
“Thus, there is a pressing need for a blue economy paradigm—one that sustains marine resources while fostering economic growth and improved livelihoods. The blue economy encompasses not only fisheries but also tourism, trade, and other activities linked to the ocean’s resources,” Rep. Salo explained.
Rep. Salo recognized the immense potential of the country’s blue economy, and is among the main advocates for the creation of a dedicated department that will address the needs of the fisheries and aquatic resources sector.
“While the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources under the Department of Agriculture currently holds responsibility for marine and aquatic resources, the department’s focus leans primarily toward land-based agriculture, leaving the blue economy and its vast potential relatively untapped,” Salo said.
“Therefore, we are advocating for the establishment of the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DFAR) as the primary body tasked with the protection, conservation, development, and management of the country’s fisheries and aquatic resources, as well as reserving their utilization to Filipino citizens. This dedicated department will be instrumental in optimizing the blue economy, advancing the well-being of the fishing communities, and conserving our rich marine biodiversity,” Salo continued.
Rep. Salo is the author of House Bill No. 1977 which seeks to create this proposed department.