The Department of Agriculture (DA) is proposing funding for its $200-million Fisheries and Coastal Resiliency (FishCoRe) project from the World Bank to improve the country’s fishery production and protect ‘blue economy’ resources.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the FishCoRe project “would directly contribute to achieving key outcomes in the department’s Food Security Framework which is integral to the national goals of recovery and resiliency as we survive, reboot and grow in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.” The loan, equivalent to P10.095 billion in Philippine peso, would support the scaling-up and modernization of Philippine capture fisheries and aquaculture, through the provision of technical support, capital, and enabling environment.

The FishCoRe project also aims to address structural weaknesses in the value chain to improve sustainability and resiliency of fishery resources, increase incomes of fisherfolk, and uplift the socio-economic condition of coastal communities amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The proposed project will be implemented in selected sites among the 12 Fisheries Management Areas (FMAs) established nationwide in 2019 by the DA through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to sustainably manage the country’s fishery resources through a science-based and participatory governance framework.

The FMAs include the country’s major fishing grounds, lakes, bays, gulfs, and other areas that may be delineated for fishery resource management purposes, approximate stock boundaries, range, distribution, and structure. The World Bank (WB) favorably supports the DA’s proposed FishCoRe project.

In a recent letter to Secretary Dar, WB Country Director Achim Fock said they fully support the goals of the project to sustainably improve incomes of Filipino fisherfolk and support resilient coastal communities through enhanced ecosystem management, productivity-enhancing technologies, aquaculture, reduced post-harvest losses, value-chain infrastructure, and related activities.

In a recent virtual meeting with WB officials, Secretary Dar requested that the processing of FishCoRe be accelerated to attain loan approval by the middle of 2021. The DA-BFAR is tasked to submit the project feasibility study by November 2020, in time for its presentation to WB officials in June 2021.

The FishCoRe project has four components:

· Fisheries coastal areas resiliency planning. This includes integrated coastal zone planning and policy development in three to four FMAs using ecosystem approach to fisheries management;

· Fisheries and coastal resilient resource management. This includes co-management of coastal and marine resources to promote resiliency and sustainable fisheries;

· Modern and Resilient Livelihood Investments. This covers modernization of fisheries and aquaculture enterprises throughout the value supply chain, and investments in climate-resilient infrastructure, support facilities, system development, credit and insurance access, and logistics; and

· Project management and coordination, and monitoring and evaluation.

Once the WB loan is approved, the DA-BFAR will implement the FishCoRe project in October 2021.