PRIETO DIAZ, SORSOGON – “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources.” This is one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals to Transform the World.

With the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP), Carayat Seaweed Farmers’ Association chairperson Candelaria Esplana is now ready to take the challenge and contribute in achieving this goal.

Esplana is an active member of the Bantay Dagat or Sea Patrol, a community-based, volunteer organization under the Department of Agriculture Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA BFAR) that collaborates with local and national government units to protect municipal waters against illegal fishing up to 15 kilometers from shore since 2015.

When PRDP delivered the motorized fiberglass boat on July 19, 2018, Esplana had triple reasons for rejoicing. First, because the association may now use it for project monitoring and hauling of harvested seaweeds, secondly, for additional income generation from fishing during off season and thirdly, as a patrol boat to curb illegal fishing in their coastal waters.

“Yung mga nag-iillegal nagpapahirap sa mga fisherfolk kasi sa halip na dumami yung mga isda, binobomba at nilalason nila ng cyanide, paunti ng paunti yung mga isda (Fisherfolk suffer from illegal fishers. Fish species continue to decrease),” she said.

Esplana also shared that transient illegal fishers oftentimes cut the ropes in their seaweed farm using three-ply fishnet. According to her, they do this to catch fish that thrive under the seaweeds.

“Nagpapasalamat talaga kami sa PRDP na nabigyan kami ng bangka. Magagamit namin ito hindi lamang sa pag-momonitor ng aming taniman ng seaweeds puwede din namin ito magamit sa pag-iikot sa mga nag-iillegal sa karagatan ng Prieto Diaz (We are thankful to PRDP that we were given this boat. We can use this not only in monitoring our seaweed farm but also in protecting the coastal waters of Prieto Diaz against illegal fishers),” she added.

PRDP is a six-year development project being implemented by the Department of Agriculture to establish an inclusive, market-oriented and climate-resilient agri-fishery sector nationwide. (Annielyn L. Baleza, DA-RAFIS V)