The Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF) held a courtesy meeting with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) on February 5, 2024 to discuss strategies for more effective stakeholder consultations within the fisheries and aquaculture sectors. The meeting served as a platform for both agencies to exchange ideas and explore potential avenues for collaboration.

During the discussions, PCAF presented a comprehensive overview of its consultative bodies, highlighting the crucial role they play in ensuring inclusive and participatory policymaking. The following agenda were then discussed:

– Priority Legislative and Policy Agenda for FY 2024 of the NSC on Fisheries and Aquaculture (FA)

– Calendar of Activities for FY 2024 of the NSC on FA

– Operational Challenges of the NSC on FA

The meeting also provided an opportunity for BFAR to introduce BUDYONG (Balitaan Ukol sa Dagat at mga Katubigan, Yaman ng mga ito at Likas-Kayang Pangangasiwa). This innovative online and social media-based portal serves as a valuable tool for fisherfolk and other stakeholders to actively engage in policy development processes. Through local Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Councils (FARMCs), BUDYONG facilitates information sharing, feedback mechanisms, and collaborative decision-making, empowering stakeholders to contribute their knowledge and perspectives on fisheries and aquaculture management.

The PCAF expressed its strong interest in leveraging BUDYONG’s potential to enhance its stakeholder consultations. Both agencies acknowledged the importance of fostering open communication and collaboration with fisherfolk and other stakeholders to ensure the sustainability and development of the fisheries and aquaculture sectors.

Another significant agreement during the meeting is the inclusion of PCAF’s NSC on FA in all mandatory consultations with fishery stakeholders. This crucial step ensures that the committee’s expertise and insights are considered before endorsing proposed Fisheries Administrative Orders (FAOs) to the National Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Councils (NFARMCs). BFAR will issue a memorandum to all FAO proponents mandating the invitation of MAFCs during consultations (regardless of their affiliation with MFARMCs).

BFAR and PCAF also agreed to collaborate on future projects and industry issues and in promoting the local salt industry.

The meeting concluded with a commitment from both PCAF and BFAR to explore further cooperation in areas such as capacity building for FARMCs, knowledge sharing, and joint advocacy initiatives. This collaborative approach is expected to significantly improve the effectiveness of stakeholder consultations, leading to more inclusive and informed policies that benefit the fisheries and aquaculture sectors in the Philippines. | BM

Photos courtesy of PCAF-PDCD