The Department of Agriculture – Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) launched the Ecosystems Improved for Sustainable Fisheries (ECOFISH) Project on 30 January 2013 at the Provincial Convention Center in Surigao City in collaboration with the Province of Surigao del Norte.
Over 100 guests and participants from 15 coastal municipalities of the province covered by the project attended the event, including the Honorable Governor Sol F. Matugas, Sangguniang Panlalawigan members, mayors, Sangguniang Bayan members, municipal agriculturists, municipal planning and development officers, and other local partners.
BFAR Caraga Regional Director Nerio G. Casil presented the status of fisheries in the region, highlighting the key role of the province of Surigao del Norte as the main contributor to marine fisheries production in the region. He also noted the decline in marine fisheries production in recent years.
ECOFISH Deputy Chief of Party, Professor Nygiel B. Armada, on the other hand, discussed how the USAID-funded project is designed to assist the province in reversing current trends in fish production and in enhancing the conditions of coastal and marine ecosystems in the area supporting local economies.
After the ceremonial unveiling of the map of Surigao del Norte/Surigao del Sur as one of eight marine key biodiversity areas (KBAs) of the project nationwide, Governor Matugas responded with a positive note by saying, “This is the project that I have been dreaming of!” She expressed that she looks forward to a fruitful collaboration with ECOFISH in cooperation with the mainland and island municipalities of Siargao covered by the project.
Tokens of appreciation were then handed out by the Provincial Government to Director Casil, Prof. Armada, and Leo R. Pura, PRIMEX Senior Manager for Project Operations, one of the project subcontractors, to thank them in gracing the event marking the five years that the project and its collaborators will be working in the province.
Following the brief discussion by Site Coordinator Nestor P. Escara of the project’s next steps, the half-day ceremony culminated with a short video presentation and mini-exhibit that highlighted the rich underwater treasures of the province. The underwater video footage and photographs came from BFAR Caraga underwater survey assessments in 2012 in the municipalities of Placer, Gigaquit, Gen. Luna, Pilar, and Del Carmen. The closing activity also received positive feedback from guests and participants.
Site Coordinators Nestor P. Escara and Ruperto Sievert, as well as Atty. James Kho, Senior Governance and Institutional Development Specialist, have been engaged through PRIMEX and will be serving the project from October 2012 to June 2017.