Kalayaan town in the contested West Philippines Sea (WPS) is set to hold a week-long festival dubbed “Pangisda sa Banwa” to encourage Palawan fishers to work for the establishment of the social, economic, and overall integrated development of its fishing community.
This was announced recently by Kalayaan Mayor Roberto del Mundo and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources OIC-Assistant Regional Director Roberto Abrera.
Del Mundo said the fishing festival, which translates to “Fishing in the Community,” will happen before the end of the year but does not have a definite date yet.
“Magkakaroon kami ng contest, iyong paramihan ng huli ng tanigue. Pahila ito dahil medyo tag-ulan at tanigue lang muna kasi sila ang andyan kahit may ulan (We will have a fishing contest for whoever can catch the most number of tanigue. This will be done using the troll method of fishing, and will be initially for taningue because they’re found in the sea even if it’s raining),” the Kalayaan mayor said.
Tanigue or Tanguingue (mackerel) is a prevalent fish in the Philippines that is abundant throughout the island waters and often caught while trolling large lures of fresh bait appended at the back of fishing boats.
It is an offshore, pelagic surface-dwelling fish that can be found in shallow waters.
“Wala pa kaming final na date kung kelan pero tanigue season ngayon. Napakaraming tanigue doon ngayon (We have no final date but it’s tanigue season now. There are many tanigue there to catch),” he said.
Abrera, on the other hand, stated the sea fishing festival in Kalayaan will be supported by BFAR as part of its fishery program, and since Philippine-claimed waters are less utilized and exploited by Palaweño fisherfolks.
“Ibig sabihin dito pa iyong marami tayong isda na makukuha kaya (This means the area is where there is still a lot of fish) there is nothing unusual in this help as it is support to fisherfolk venturing in West Philippines Sea,” Abrera said.
The fishing festival is the latest development in the island municipal government and BFAR’s partnership target to establish a strong and solid fishing community of 100 fisherfolks in the contested region.
On September 10, 50 fishermen and some of their family members were relocated to Pag-asa Island in Kalayaan from the mercury-contaminated barangays of Sta. Lourdes and Tagburos in Puerto Princesa.
BFAR-MIMAROPA Regional Director Elizer Salilig in an earlier interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA) disclosed that the relocated residents are going to be initially supported with Php5,000 rice allowance and livelihood assistance per month while in the disputed area.
They were provided with 25 units of 20-footer fiberglass motorized boats, and eight drums of diesel gasoline since there is none being sold on Pag-asa Island.
The motorized fishing boats will be co-owned by two fishermen to prevent its selling or pawning. They are unsinkable since they are made of fiberglass.
“They were residents of Sta. Lourdes and Tagburos, who came to us for help regarding their livelihood. I asked them if they’re willing to relocate to Pag-asa Island, and they said yes,” Salilig said.
As part of the deal, the BFAR has started the construction in Kalayaan town of a Php3-million community fish landing center where the relocated fishermen can bring their fish catch.
Two units of fish storage freezers were also brought to the remote municipality to help the fishermen. A buyer from Cavite will purchase their fish catches, he said.
Del Mundo also disclosed in the press conference that BFAR had already downloaded to them Php10-million for the construction of an ice plant and cold storage facility.
“Uumpisahan na namin ito bago matapos ang taon, hinihintay lang namin ang plano na galing Manila (We will start this project before the year ends, we are just waiting for the plan that will come from Manila),” Del Mundo said.