TACLOBAN CITY, April 22 (PNA) – The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) is optimistic that fisheries production will bounce back this year after five years of consistent decrease due to illegal fishing activities and impacts of super typhoon Yolanda in 2013.

BFAR Regional Director Juan D. Albaladejo said the region will likely restore its fishery output to pre-Yolanda level after massive rehabilitation activities since late 2013.

In 2014, fishery production dropped by 14 percent to 137,518 metric tons (mt) from 161,581 mt harvest the previous year.

“We are confident of restoring the production since the government and non-government organizations (NGOs) have already provided fishing boats and fishing gears. Our aquaculture farms have been recovering as well,” Albaladejo said.

BFAR has completed rebuilding more than 18,000 fishing boats as of end of March. Some P200 million funds have been transferred to local government units to rehabilitate mariculture zones.

This is on top of hundreds of fish cages provided by BFAR and several international NGOs like Japan International Cooperation Agency, United States Agency for International Development, and Food and Agriculture Organization.

Some 500 fish cages were destroyed by strong winds, resulting to aquaculture output drop to 30,791 mt in 2014 from 34,501 mt a year ago. Commercial fisheries yield also declined to 30,240 mt from 41,928 mt. This is largely due to damages of commercial fishing boats.

Harvest from municipal waters also dropped to 76,486 mt from 85,152 mt.

Total regional harvest consistently dropped in the past five years from 205,723 mt in 2010; 199,037 mt in 2011; 188,090 mt in 2012; 161,581 mt in 2013; and 137,518 mt in 2014.

“Even before Yolanda, production data is expected to decrease since our focus is more on fishery resource management and producing high value species through aquaculture instead of catching low value species and juvenile fish,” Albaladejo told reporters.

The official is optimistic of production recovery this year since all intervention are “well-planned” by the fishery council.

BFAR has also deployed law enforcement teams in six provinces. Each team was provided with fast sea craft and firearms to combat illegal fishing. (PNA)