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Women and Self-Help Group: Continuing to Rebuild Lives


This case story presents the SIKAT’s (Sentro para sa Ikauunlad ng Katutubong Agham at Teknolohiya) disaster rehabilitation and recovery program in Maliwaliw, Island in Salcedo, Eastern Samar through the Self-Help Group, a post disaster response after the occurrence of Typhoon Yolanda in Eastern Visayas with focus on the marginalized women. Disaster rehabilitation aims to ensures the ability of affected communities/areas to restore their normal level of functioning by rebuilding livelihood and damaged infrastructures and increasing the communities’ organizational capacity. Post-Disaster Recovery aims for the restoration and improvement where appropriate, of facilities, livelihood and living conditions of disaster-affected communities, including efforts to reduce disaster risk factors, in accordance with the principles of “build back better”. It also helps strengthen the women’s adaptive capacity in terms of the skills and collective attributes such as social relationships, leadership, and management.

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Statement of Support to Municipal Fisherfolk Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic


We, the Pangingisda Natin Gawing Tama (PaNaGaT) Network, a coalition of fisherfolk and non-government organizations which support the strict and full implementation of Republic Act No. 10654, or the Amended Fisheries Code, would like to highlight and commend the important role of our fisherfolk in securing available and safe food in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our fishers are essential frontline workers who continue to provide food for the public during the Extended Community Quarantine (ECQ). In 2019 alone, our 1.9 million municipal fishers provided us with 1.106 tons of seafood, or 25.4 percent of the total fisheries production1 in the country. Indeed, they remain to be the backbone of the fishing industry in the Philippines.

Under the enhanced and extended community quarantine, we have monitored and received reports from our partner municipal fisherfolk organizations throughout the country that their families have received minimal food packs since the lockdown started on March 15. With the extension of the community quarantine and uncertainty on when the threat of the COVID-19 virus will end, the little resources that our fishers have will soon be depleted.

In this regard, we would like to underscore the following challenges faced by our municipal fishers in the COVID-19 pandemic and propose the following recommendations for appropriate actions from local government units and concerned government agencies:
(1) Fast-track the distribution of cash and food subsidies detailed in the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, for fisherfolk families affected by the lockdown throughout Metro Manila, coastal provinces of Luzon and all other affected provinces and coastal local governments.

(2) Facilitate transportation support to move fish products from the communities to the designated markets. We commend the quick action by the Department of Agriculture (DA) by the issuance of Memorandum Circular 9, series of 2020 to ensure unhampered delivery of fish and agricultural products. We propose then that the DA through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) use government reefer trucks or refrigerated vans, which could be complemented by LGU to LGU mediated (buyer-producer) fisheries trade, in support of the joint statement issued by the chiefs of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) for governments “to minimize the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the movement and trade of food, farm and fishery inputs, and basic necessities”. Although fishers are exempted from quarantine and are allowed to sail amid the ongoing curfews, they find it difficult to market their harvest due to limited buyers and traders apart from challenges met in checkpoints.

(3) Encourage government support in consolidation and absorption of the shefiry products from small fisherfolk operations, as some locgal overnments are doing in buying fish from fisherfolk for distribution as food packs, will allow fishers to feed their families and at the same time, secure the country’s food supply..

(4) Facilitate the transport of fishery and farm products and maintain adequate fish supply in markets. We also encourage the DA-BFAR, DILG and LGUs to have closer coordination to facilitate the flow of the supply chain by issuing clear policies allowing traders, transport vans and trucks to freely pass through boundary checkpoints, considering DA Memorandum Circular 9, Series of 2020. These should incorporate the inclusion of fisheries products in the establishment of Kadiwa: Ani at Kita outlets selling food products direct from farmers and fishers to consumers, and under the Kadiwa Express and Kadiwa Online marketing of products and other mobile markets that LGUs can establish such as market on wheels or pamilihan sa barangay.

(5) Provide ice-making machines and other needed post harvest facilities. Special exemptions should be issued for ice-making companies, so they could operate and supply fisherfolk and traders with much needed ice to preserve their catch and ensure quality fish products. This can be done through partnership with existing organized groups and/or securing ice-making machines to be loaned out to fisherfolk organizations so they can preserve their fish catch. We also call on the LGUs to maximize the community fish landing centers (CFLCs) in order to consolidate and locally market fishery products. This will address the scarcity of ice in our production areas due to the halting of operations of most companies.

(6) Continuous fishery law enforcement. We urge the LGUs, in coordination with the DA-BFAR, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other law enforcement agencies to continue seaborne operations especially in municipal waters, as some coastal municipalities are doing in partnership with national enforcement agencies. We also recommend logistical provisions for seaborne operations including honoraria and food for Bantay Dagat personnel, and fuel for patrol boats.

(7) Disseminate policies and facilitate the application of social amelioration programs in partnership with non-government organizations and peoples organizations. We also recommend the timely dissemination of guidelines, policies and immediate facilitation of the application for social amelioration programs such as the Ahon Lahat, Pagkain Sapat Kontra sa COVID-19 (ALPAS COVID-19) Program, where fisherfolk can loan as much as Php25,000 payable up to 10 years without collateral. PaNaGat as a network are doing the same in their social media platforms.

(8) Proper and clear coordination of concerned government agencies particularly IATF, DA, BFAR, DILG, LGUs and enforcement agencies. PaNaGaT welcomes the responsive programs of the DA-BFAR to protect our fisheries sector and ensure food security, which include the request for Php1 Billion additional budget from the Inter-Agency Task Force to Address COVID-19 to start an urban aquaponics project, provide assistance to aquaculture and capture fisheries, and develop social amelioration programs specific for fishing communities.

We also commend the government agencies for enhancing checkpoint protocols to ensure the unhampered movement of food and agri-fishery products and personnel, regional implementation of the Kadiwa: Ani and Kita program, and expanding the amelioration programs to fisherfolks.

We thank the DA-BFAR for granting the request for a dialogue with PaNaGat to discuss these challenges. We hope that programs and assistance to support our municipal fishers, who are the poorest of the poor in all sectors, will be implemented. In these challenging times, we are hopeful that municipal fishers and their families, together with all the sectors in the country, would weather the economic blow of the quarantine through continuing close collaboration. Together, we can help in flattening the curve and supporting our frontline workers and prioritize the safety of everyone and emerge protected against the COVID-19 pandemic.

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NFR Culminates Tacloban Project w/ Fisherfolk Food Bazaar

On October 19-20, 2016, a two days fisherfolk food bazaar was conducted by NGO’s for Fisheries Reform at City Hall Grounds, Tacloban City. . Representatives from different fisher folks association in Tacloban City such as the TaclobanFisherfolks Urban Association (TFUA), Old KawayanFisherfolks Association (OKFA), St. Vincent Women’s Fisherfolk Association, St. Vincent Women’s Fish Processing Association and Rural Improvement Club attended the said fisherfolk food bazaar.

The said fisherfolk food bazaar mainly focused on showcasing, promoting and selling the local products of different fisherfolk association in Tacloban City. The event also served as a culminating activity because the NGO’s for Fisheries Reform (NFR) has already finished its project in Tacloban.

Different associations sold different products during the food bazaar. The products of Rural improvement club are fish fillet afritada, fish fillet sarciado, ginataangpunaw, fish embutido, chili dilis, biko, fish lumpia, special puto, and fish empanada. The old kawayanfisherfolk association sold seaweed, fresh fish (Lapu-lapu) and dried squid. The St. Vincent Women’s Fish Processing Association and St. Vincent Women’s Fisherfolk Association also sold their special seaweed pickles, marinated bangus and relyinongbangus. The TaclobanFisherfolk Urban Association products were crabs, boneless bangus and alive Lapu-lapu. The products sold in the food bazaar were local products of different fisherfolk of Tacloban City that we should be proud of.

During the event, intermission numbers were also presented by the local talents of Tacloban City. Singing, dancing, interpretative dance and comedy dramas were performed during the food bazaar to entertain the participants.

The event ended dramatically because the personnel from NGO’s for Fisheries Reform thanked the participants for helping them achieved their project. For the years, months and days that they participated in different training, seminars and writeshop organized by the organization. The different fisherfolks association of Tacloban City also shared their gratitude to the NFR for helping them recover after the typhoon and for the knowledge through trainings and seminars they impart on them that no amount of money could replace.

Click link to view full documentation: fisherfolk-food-bazaar

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Youth Leadership on Marine Conservation


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Policy Writeshop on Risk Insurance & Cancabato Bay Management Plan

On September 27-28, 2016, a two days policy writeshop was conducted by NGO for Fisheries Reform at Ritz Tower de Leyte, Tacloban City. Representatives from different fisher folks association in Tacloban City such as the TaclobanFisherfolks Urban Association (TFUA), CabalawanFisherfolks Association, Old Kawayan Women’s Association, Old KawayanFisherfolks Association (OKFA) St. Vincent Womens’Association, Rural improvement club and Brgy. 75 fisherfolk association attended the said policy write shop. Representatives from government agencies such as DENR region 8, BFAR region 8, FLET Tacloban and SangguniangPanglungsod also participated in the event.

The main objective of the write shop is to create and propose policy for risk insurance and Cancabato bay management plan. The two days policy writeshop mainly focused on how to protect the coastal areas of Cancabato bay and to have knowledge regarding Fishery law. The participants highlighted the importance of fishery law enforcement training in order to protect coastal areas and to deputize a member so that he/she is allowed to arrest or warn illegal activities that damage the sea.

At the end of the event, a newly revised proposal regarding risk insurance and cancabato bay management plan were made and different agencies such as BFAR, DENR, CFARMC, Sanggunian and NFR shared commitments in order to achieve the proposals made by the participants.

Click link to view full documentation: policy-writeshop-on-risk-insurance-cancabato-bay

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Food Safety & Good Manufacturing Practices w/ DOST

September 21, 2016 – The NGO’s for Fisheries Reform (NFR) in coordination withOXFAM launched the three-day training course on Food Safety and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).Research Specialist II, Imelda Picorro, of DOST Leyte facilitated the entire training with the help of NFR staff, Hannah Hipe, and NFR community organizer, Christina Cartalla. The participants came from different Fisher-folk associations and other organizations within Tacloban City. The associations that came from Brgy. Old Kawayan, Tacloban City are Old Kawayan Women’s Fish Processing Association (OKWFPA) and St. Vincent Women’s Association (SVWA). Other associations namely, Rural Improvement Club (RIC) and Brgy. 102Seaweed Farmers came from Brgy. Burayan, San Jose and Brgy. Cabalawan, Tacloban City, respectively. Moreover, two participants represented the City Agriculture Office. In general, there were 33 participants who attended the said event.

The objectives of the training are to boost the skills of the participants on food preparation and processing; and to increase awareness on food safety and food hazards to lessen different kinds of contamination and cross-contamination on food that may cause diseases. The participants are expected to learn or gain knowledge that can benefit them in terms of improving and developing their ways on food production.

The event started with a seminar undertaking significant issues and lessons on Food Safety – Food Hazards, Personal Hygiene, Contamination and Cross-contamination, and Good Manufacturing Practices – that took place in Hotel Lorenza, Tacloban City.The second and the third day of the training course wereensued at Brgy. Old Kawayan, Tacloban City specifically in the Barangay’s Multi-purpose Hall. On these days, the trainor, Imelda Picorro, conducted demonstrations on safe food preparation and processing followed by hands-on training of the participants. The activities completed were Bangus deboning and making of Stuffed Milkfish (Rellenong Bangus) and Fish Burger. With this, the participants are able to know various methods and recipes using Bangus (Milkfish) as the main ingredient.

Click link to view full documentation: food-safety-good-manufacturing-practices

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Training Course on Aquaculture Technologies for Seaweeds & Oyster

On august 31-September 3, 2016, a training course was conducted by the NGO for Fisheries Reform (NFR) at Brgy. Old Kawayan, Tacloban City, Leyte wherein high ranked staffs from SEAFDEC were invited to be the resource speakers. Different fisher folks association in Tacloban City, Leyte attended the said event. Tacloban Urban Fisherfolks Association (TUFA) was one of the presentassociations during the seminar and was represented by Emilio D. Onate while Cabalawan Fisherfolks Association was embodied by Lyric Earl Demain and Lito Balangbang. On the other hand, St. Vincent Women’s Association was represented by Vevilyn C. Tranoza, Ilene M. Bonguet, Emilina B. Ojales, and Rebecca P. Bodanoza. Another participant was a facilitator from BFAR named Catherine Mecaydor.

The said seminar mainly focused on discussing different methods of grow-out culture techniques of seaweeds and oysters. The objectives of this event are: impart the skills and knowledge on how to increase the production of seaweeds and oysters, illustrate the different types of seaweeds, teach different methods of grow-out culture techniques of seaweeds and oysters, demonstrate different seaweed post-processing techniques, and determine the most efficient method for seaweed and oyster farming.


Statistics on seaweed and oyster production

Philippines is one of the major contributors of seaweeds and oysters. In seaweed production, Philippines belongs to the top 3 producing countries. First is Malaysia, followed by Indonesia, and the third is Philippines.

On the other hand, Dr. Ma. Junemie Hazel L. Ramos explained that most of the oysters came from Asia. Philippines is ranked sixth in Asia but is the top producer in Southeast Asia since 2011.


Factors to consider for seaweed and oyster culture sites

Rovilla J. Luhan from SEAFDEC pointed out that, “in order to have a good yield in seaweed production, you have to know where to grow your seaweeds.” Site fertility (light), water motion or current, water quality, and temperature are the physical determinants in seaweed production. In line with these determinants are the characteristics of a good farm site which are: areas with good water movement (20-40 m min-1), free from fresh water run-off (salinity=30-34 ppt), clean and clear water, and last but not the least is being free from domestic, agricultural, and industrial effluents.

“Are there other factors to consider in seaweed farming?” Vevilyn C. Tranoza asked. Rovilla immediately explained the other factors to consider in farming Kappaphycus which are the availability of good quality cultivars appropriate for the site and farming technique, proximity in sourcing cultivars to avoid stress, presence of dedicated, persevering, and patient seaweed farmers, and availability of capital.

Since there are also diseases in seaweeds like the “Ice-Ice” and “Endophytes”, Rovilla J. Luhan said that,”Mas mababa ang Ice-Ice pag may abuno (There is lesser Ice-Ice if there is fertilizer)”.

Dr. Junemie Hazel L. Ramos discussed the factors to consider for oyster culture sites. These factors are availability of culture materials, availability of brood stock or seeds, wave or wind action, salinity (17 ppt=17 g salt in 1 liter of water), water depth, natural food supply since oysters are considered to be filter feeders.

Dr. Junemie also pointed out that oysters are nutritious because it boosts immune system, beneficial for healing wounds, promotes blood circulation in body, helps to prevent cardiovascular diseases, boosts sexual performance, and etc. but it can also be linked to human illnesses when eaten too much just like diarrhea.

The three day seminar done by the NGO for Fisheries Reform (NFR) taught the fisher folks in Tacloban City, Leyte on how to increase their yield, lessen the diseases, different methods of grow-out culture techniques, and the most efficient method in seaweed and oyster farming.


Click link to view full documentation: training-on-aquaculture-technologies-for-seaweeds-oyster

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NFR Conducts Financial Management Training with Fisherfolk Groups


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NFR Case Study on Perceived Impacts of Waste Water on Mariculture



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Fisherfolk, conservation groups call on Duterte to end illegal fishing in 6 months

Quezon City, 21 June 2016. – A week before President-elect Rodrigo Duterte assumes office, leaders of fisherfolk and marine conservation groups bared their recommendations toward improving the lot of fishing communities and the healthof the country’s marine ecosystems by putting an end to crimes happening at sea and in coastal communities. In a presentation to media today, the groups also called for the creation of a separate Department of Oceans and Fisheries to be able to better plan, monitor and implement reforms and contribute towards food security.


“We are here to request for a dialogue and to remind incoming President Duterte of his campaign promise to address fishers’ and marine issues, and to end very high poverty incidence among people directly relying on seas for food and for a living. His administration will play a critical role in the country’s transition to sustainable fishing. We expect nothing less than strong, resolute implementation of the amended fisheries law against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUUF). Doing less is a disservice to millions of Filipinos who have been clamoring for change,” said Vince Cinches, oceans campaigner of Greenpeace Philippines.


According to data from the Philippine Statistics Authority in 2014 [1], the poverty incidence among fisherfolk reached 39.2 in 2012, the highest among the basic sectors of society, followed by farmers at 38.3%, and children at 35.2%.


“Coherent and holistic programs should especially be quickly put in place that recognize our vulnerability to climate change. We need focused and sustained efforts in combating crimes against the oceans and to allow a better playing field for our small fishers and fishing communities. We strongly urge the incoming administration to target an end to illegal fishing within their first six months of office,” said Mayette Rodriguez, Executive Director of the NGOs for Fisheries Reform.


During the election campaign period, fishers, marine conservationists and environmental groups pushed for the 10-Point Blue Agenda[2] to be taken up by the Presidential candidates. This includes: the delineation of municipal waters; the implementation of traceability mechanisms for fishery products; sustainable fishing; and capacity-building for fisherfolk to better adapt to climate change.


“To ensure the sustainability of our fishery resources and secure the livelihood of our Filipino fishers for long-term economic prosperity and food security, we strongly support the creation of a Department of Oceans and Fisheries for improved fisheries governance and strict enforcement of Republic Act 10654,”[3] said Joann Binondo, overall project manager of the WWF – Partnership Program for Sustainable Tuna.


“We call on the new administration to immediately address the crime of illegal fishing and start rehabilitating our overfished waters.  We look forward to seeing political will in the new government’s campaign against crime to include its focus on prosecuting plunderers of our oceans, to protect the people’s right to healthy marine ecosystems and ensure food security for all Filipinos,” said Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos, vice president of Oceana Philippines.





[1] Fishermen, farmers and children remain the poorest basic sectors




For more information:


Mayette Rodriguez

Executive Director

NGOs for Fisheries Reform, +639178315956


Joann Binondo

Project Manager

WWF – Partnership Program for Sustainable Tuna, +639153197136


Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos


Oceana Philippines, +639176595609


Vince Cinches

Philippine Oceans Campaigner

Greenpeace Southeast Asia, +639498891336


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