My second week in the Philippines was spent visiting sites outside of Metro Manila. The first stop of the week was to a pair of Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (“BFAR”) sites in Dagupan City. Dagupan City is the major/capital city of Pangasinan province in the north. It is also a city that is renowned for the quality of its farmed milkfish, known locally as bangus. In Dagupan City I visited the BFAR National Inland Fisheries Technology Development Centre (“NIFTDC”), BFAR’s regional office for region and also met with the Chief Agricultural Officer (“CAO”) for the municipality.
After a 4am departure for the 4 hour drive to Dagupan City, the first stop of the day was the NIFTDC. The NIFTDC is one of the research centres dedicated to developing and improving technologies for use in inland fisheries. The facilities at NIFTDC consist of research laboratories, extensive hatchery facilities for species including white prawns, bangus, the Asian Fishery Academy and a fish processing facility.
The afternoon was spent visiting BFAR and municipal offices to discuss the state of small-scale fisheries and of municipal fishing regulations in Dagupan City. My discussion with the CAO was the first time I had had the opportunity to learn directly about small-scale (or municipal) fisherfolk in the Philippines.
After arriving back in Quezon City at at approximately 9pm, it was a quick turnaround before leaving for the airport at 3am to catch thee 4:45am flight to Roxas City (They love their early morning flights in PH!). Roxas City is located in the Visayas area of the Philippines and on the island of Panay. The trip to Roxas City was my opportunity to observe a hearing to address a Fishpond Lease Agreement conflict. The hearing was a ‘livelier’ event than I had been expecting but it definitely underscored the reality of the situation for the parties involved. The issue at stake is not simply a legal issue but rather is an issue that dictates their ability to feed their families.
Following the hearing process, I observed the BFAR team while they completed their ocular inspection of the fishpond are under dispute. It was nice to finally see thee infamous fishponds that I had spent the past 10 days reading about. I would have enjoyed the inspection more if I had not been wearing a dress but lesson learned for the next site visit!
This week I am in Guiuan, Eastern Samar. Guiuan is one of the areas that was most devastated by Typhoon Yolanda in November 2013. Internet connections are a little scare so I will be uploading a complete blog including pictures (finally!!) when I’m back in Quezon City in a few days.
And for those who are wondering…it is still HOT and the sunscreen supply is already dwindling!