Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Palawan's Fishermen Move to Seaweed Farming

Communities along Palawan's coastal areas are now no longer dependent on just fishing for their livelihood.

Now, they are also farming seaweed -- a project that is not only giving them an alternate source of income, it is also preserving Palawan's waters.

Located in the northern part of Palawan is the pristine Pandan Island.


For decades, families living along this coastal town lived a comfortable life, relying solely on fishing as their source of income. But damage to the ecosystem, caused by indiscriminate fishing, depleted the waters and threatened to wipe out their livelihood.

Through the help of the Asian Development Bank, a Fisheries Resource Management unit was set-up to teach fishermen how to diversify their income and rehabilitate the waters of Palawan.

The community now engages in seaweed farming, which has become a thriving aquaculture industry in the province.

From earning just barely US$100 monthly, fishermen like Mario Mulato can now earn as much as US$1,700 a month.

He said: "I earn more thru seaweed farming. I was able to have some savings because of it. Fishing is harder to do, more tiring and you lack sleep."

For fisherman Angelino Rebintinola, who used to engage in cyanide fishing, seaweed farming has opened his eyes. He has now dedicated his life to protecting the waters of Palawan from destructive fishermen.

He said: "I am one of those who volunteer to guard the sea because illegal cyanide fishing destroys our seaweed production. If we are able to protect our environment, maybe, slowly, the waters will go back to the way it was before."

By providing alternative means of livelihood to the coastal communities, such as maintaining mangrove nurseries and creating fish sanctuaries, fishermen and their families are now able to reduce their reliance on fishing and increase their income, thus ensuring a more sustainable development to the fisheries sector.

Delia Martinez, who is working in the fisheries sector of the City Agriculturist Office, said: "Fishing is seasonal. There are times when the sea is rough and they cannot go out to sea. With the additional skills that we have taught them, they get to have extra income. Now we can ensure that their children, the next generation, will have a better life than them."

Palawan has become the country's number one seaweed producer, supplying more than 90 per cent of the country's seaweed. As a low-cost and labour-intensive venture, it has become a viable supplemental source of livelihood for the fishermen of Palawan.


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