DA Secretary Manny Piñol bats for fisheries agency

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PAGADIAN CITY—Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol urged the House of Representatives to prioritize the passage of a bill creating a separate Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

Piñol, in a recent visit to the Zamboanga del Sur capital, explained the creation of a Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DFAR) “will ensure the strengthening of Philippine waters and marine resources and the rights of local fisher folk.”

He stressed that such a new agency will be able to “regulate the ocean, marine life and other bodies of water within its jurisdiction, along the lines of conservation of marine and fisheries resource, both inland and off-shore.”

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According to the former three-term North Cotabato governor, there are six pending bills in the 17th Congress seeking to establish the DFAR, one of them—House Bill 426 filed by Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo—noted that while there are DA attached agencies focused on marine resources, “a centralized agency specifically created for such purpose can better discharge this duty.”

Piñol noted that Arroyo’s bill further stressed that “toward this end, the DFAR shall have the power to administer, develop, conserve and utilize all fisheries and aquatic resources and shall have the jurisdiction to take control over the production, capture, dispensation and promotion of fisheries and marine products in the country.”

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Like other agencies, Pinol said, the DFAR will also be headed by a secretary with the same cabinet rank plus three undersecretaries each for fisheries production and utilization, fisheries conservation and management, and for operations.

HB 426 proposed the allocation of P5 billion for the set up of DFAR, Pinol noted.

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