BFAR hopes to get more financial support after Recto Bank incident

Rappler.com
BFAR hopes to get more financial support after Recto Bank incident
Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Director Eduardo Gongona hopes the incident at Recto Bank will also lead to more funding for the agency

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) hopes it can get more support in providing transponders to fishing vessels after the sinking of F/B Gem-Ver at Recto Bank. 

BFAR Director Eduardo Gongona told reporters on Monday, June 24, they have already set a goal to distribute 5,000 transponders within the year, but with a transponder costing at least P10,000, BFAR can’t shoulder all of the costs, he said.

With the sinking F/B Gem-ver, Gongona said the incident serves as “a good signal so that our decision makers will know that we do need transponders.”

“Kaya baka naman maawa sila at magkaroon tayo ng immediate resources para makuha iyon (transponders).” 

(So maybe they can take pity and give us immediate resources to acquire the transponders.) 

Gongona clarified that BFAR only gives aid to small-scale fishermen, as they are the ones who cannot afford to buy their own transponders. Transponders help BFAR track the movement and location of fishing vessels. 

When F/B Gem-Ver sank, its crew were only able to seek help after a Vietnamese vessel rescued them. (READ: Unlike PH, Vietnam defends its fishermen vs China)

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said last June 19 that protecting the country’s fishing grounds is under BFAR’s mandate. While Gongona agreed with Lorenzana’s statement, he said that BFAR doesn’t have the capabilities to do this effectively.

“With less equipment that we have, what we can do, is to harmonize our relationship, harmonize all the mandates of all [relevant] government instrumentalities,” Gongona said on Monday. 

In fact, nakikiusap kami sa navy, nakikiusap kami sa coast guard and other agencies na tulungan kami na if may distress ang fishermen, puntahan natin. Because our duty is to protect our fishermen, protect our vessels and protect the environment.” 

(In fact, we are asking to the navy, we are asking the coast guard and other agencies to help us by going to distressed fishermen. Because our duty is to protect our fishermen, protect our vessels and protect the environment.)

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol in a press conference also on June 19, said that while BFAR can help monitor the fishing grounds in Recto Bank, it still only has two vessels that can make it that far.

Piñol added that it will also take those vessels – Multi-mission Offshore Vessel (MMOV) Lapu-Lapu and MMOV Francisco Dahogoy – two days and two nights to reach Recto Bank. – Rappler.com