The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said the creation of a separate agency to focus on seaweeds will make the industry more competitive and will benefit Palawan as the country’s major seaweed producer.
Roberto Abrera, assistant regional director of BFAR-MIMAROPA, told Palawan News in a telephone interview Wednesday that an agency that will solely function for seaweed is ideal since it will be commodity-focused and will further strengthen the country’s seaweed production.
“Kung merong dedicated agency ay mas lalong matututukan. Magiging commodity-focused para mas mapalakas ang ating industry. Nakikita rin natin na ang area ng research on seaweeds ay mas lalawak,” he said.
In 2013, Basilan Rep. Jim Hataman-Salliman filed House Bill 2007 seeking for the creation of the Philippine Seaweed Development Authority (PSDA). On the same year, Senator Loren Legarda filed Senate Bill 692, an act creating the Philippine Seaweed Development Authority (PSDA) and defining its objectives, powers, and functions.
Under Sen. Legarda’s proposed bill, the PSDA will be mandated to establish and maintain trading and marketing schemes that will ensure stabilized prices at a level reasonably profitable to seaweed farmers and traders.
It will also regulate the exportation, importation, manufacture, processing, handling, distribution, pricing and other activities related to seaweeds.
Abrera said that other commodities in the country have agencies focused on its development like coconut, fiber industry, and tobacco.
“Napaka-importante itong creation ng Philippine Seaweed Development Authority kasi meron tayong Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) na nakatutok lang sa coconut industry, at meron ding National Tobacco Administration (NTA) na no smoking na nga tayo ngayon,” he said.
Though, he has no update as to the current status of the bills, he is hopeful that it will be enacted into law the soonest time, to help uplift the country’s seaweeds industry.
Abrera said that Palawan is still one of the county’s major producers of raw dried seaweeds, and it ranked second to Tawi-tawi. The province’s seaweed production represented 22 to 25 percent of the country’s total production of 1.5 million metric tons.
In a document/presentation obtained from the Seaweed Industry Association of the Philippines (SIAP) through its president, Jimbo Pedrosa, during a consultation with seaweed producers last May 3, it showed that Palawan’s seaweed production in 2017 is 325,196 metric tons, which is 22.97 percent of the total production.
In 2015, the seaweed production in Palawan is even higher at 395,125 metric tons, which represented 25.22 percent of the country’s total production.
SIAP also said that the country is the second largest exporter of carrageenan, an export commodity derived from raw dried seaweeds used as food additives, pharmaceuticals, and other important uses in manufacturing and processing of food products.