Manila, Philippines --- The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) is set to initially deploy today 14 fish aggregating devices (FADs), locally called "payao," in the Benham Rise, a newly-established fishing ground in the Pacific Ocean. The nine-day payao deployment will end on June 7.
BFAR Director Asis Perez said the agency will develop fishing in the Benham Rise, a 13-million hectare under the sea region with the shallowest portion at 35 meters, off the provinces of Isabela and Aurora.
The fishing ground has been confirmed by the United Nations as part of the Philippine territory on April 12, 2012. It is among priority areas under the National Payao Program of BFAR.
"Wala tayong kaagaw dito kaya madedevelop natin ang lugar na ito. Our fishermen will benefit from this resource. BFAR will begin the deployment of payaos on May 30, beginning from Infanta, Quezon," Perez said in a press conference in Quezon City.
"This is a potential area for offshore fishing. This is a huge place for fishing with almost one-third the size of the country," he said, adding that the area is marine biodiversity-rich and is home to high-value fish species, such as blue-fin tuna and black and white marlin. The area also teems with round scad or galunggong.
The deployment of a total of 66 units of payao this year will provide livelihood to fisherfolk, and will allow exploratory fishing and scientific studies in Benham Rise, Perez said.
A team of researchers, regulatory officers, and fishermen will join the activity.
He noted that at least seven commercial fishing vessels or ring netters have signified interest to start fishing operations in the area. He said the fishing operations of the initial seven commercial fishing vessels could yield an estimated 70 metric tons of fish catch per fishing operation.
Each ring netter could conduct at least two fishing operations per month. Likewise, each ring netter could provide employment to at least 30 fishermen.
A total of at least 1,400 payaos will be distributed in the country this year, Perez said. Each payao costs P100,000 to P150,000. Perez said BFAR has allotted over P200 million for the project.
To ensure that the fishing ground is safeguarded from poachers and illegal fishers, BFAR's multi-mission vessel will take charge of monitoring and surveillance. The same vessel will be used for quick response and rescue operations during emergencies.
Simultaneous with the implementation of various interventions geared towards fishery development in Benham Rise, M/V DA-BFAR, the government research vessel, is presently deployed in the area to conduct scientific studies, which will determine the Maximum Sustainable Yield of the new and promising fishing ground for Filipino fishermen.