PIA Press Release
Tuesday, January 03, 2012
Maripark for Siasi fisherfolk opensSIASI, SULU, Jan. 3 -– True to Pres. Benigno Aquino’s directive to make government projects be felt by the local people, Siasi Mayor Arthur Muksan, 2nd District Rep. Nur-Ana Sahidulla and Atty. Asis G. Perez, director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) launched the Siasi Mariculture Park and Aqua-Tourism project here at Tara Island barely two days before the year was over.
Tara Island is one of the eight island-municipalities in the second district of Sulu Province. The mariculture park is securely located close to the middle of the crescent-shaped cove margined with pinkish white sand and pristine waters teeming with marine life. The beach alone could easily rival the country’s fine beaches including the world’s favorite Boracay.
The 30-hectare mariculture park showcases 40 units of 4m x 4m fish cages, 32 of which were constructed from the P2.4M funds provided by the BFAR and with the municipal government providing all other amenities such as the mooring system, the floating multi-purpose hall, fingerlings and service boats, among others.
“Never before had this happened in Siasi”, said Hussayin Arpa, a representative of the National Samabadjao Movement, Inc. He said that the Sama tribe comprising majority of the fisherfolk residents are very happy of the said project.
Arpa added that the Sama fishermen are willing to cooperate with the government to protect the seas. In fact, their forebears had constantly reminded them of the saying - Araa pinabustakan in patulihan mga daying (Let us not destroy the place where the fish sleep). However, years of ignorance and apathy had led some of the locals to go into destructive fishing practices.
“This is just the beginning of a better life for the residents of Siasi,” Mayor Muksan told more than a hundred local residents who came by their fishing bancas from the various coastal barangay in the area. “But I have to clench my fist harder and resist the usual giving out of dole-outs in order to provide more for the livelihood of our fishermen”, he added.
Muksan told the local residents that they also have to do their share to ensure the success of the livelihood opportunities laid to them.
He said that the fish pots distributed to various barangay earlier would enable them to catch live high-value species that could be further grown in the fish cages. Later on, even the housewives could become productive in the mariculture park as they could help in seaweed farming and in the processing of fish into value-added products.
Rep. Sahidula, on the other hand, reminded the residents to cooperate with the government in order to uplift their economic status. “We don’t need guns to address the crises we are in; rather we have to work hard and pursue our roles as responsible parents,” she said.
Ideal partnership model
Dir. Perez indicated that the partnership forged between the BFAR and Siasi LGU is the first of its kind worth emulating. He said that what is more significant is that it involves our Muslim brothers who had long been deprived of benefiting most from the richness that abounds their coastal waters.
“ARMM and MIMAROPA had consistently been the top 2 fish producing regions in the country. However, the two regions received the least of budgetary support for the past many years”, he said.
With additional counterpart funds coming from the LGU, Perez told the local officials that BFAR will initially provide 100 sets of ropes and floaters to jumpstart the farming of seaweeds in Tara Island, while local government will provide for the seaweed propagules. This would benefit a quarter of the 400 family-residents in the island alone.
In order to strengthen their coastal protection program, Perez said that BFAR will also provide motor engines for the same number of banca that will be provided by the LGU. “One unit will be given to each of the coastal Bantay Dagat volunteer group in the 28 coastal barangay of Siasi,” he said.
Perez lamented the fact that many of the expensive fish caught in these areas end up being dried which reduces not only its volume but the prices of the fish as well. “A kilo of lapu-lapu in Manila is pegged at no less than P250. Here in Siasi, a kilo of dried lapu-lapu sells at only P160/kilo or even less,” he added. Perez said that in the meantime that the viability of a cold storage plant is yet to be studied by the agency; a mini-ice maker will be provided by the BFAR to assist local fishermen in keeping the quality of their fresh catch.
Perez also indicated that the present administration is very serious in coming up with a comprehensive strategic plan to transform the provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi (BASULTA) which make up the Sulu Archipelago into a progressive area where the locals themselves would directly benefit from its rich resources.
“Sinsero ang ating Pangulo sa pangako nyang matuwid na landas at tapat na paglilingkod sa ating mamamayan. Sisiguraduhin naman namin na mararamdaman ng ating mamamayan ang ating pamahalaan”, he stressed. (BFAR)