A major seaweed industry player in the country said Puerto Princesa should explore the potential of “seaweed farming tourism” to further boost livelihood in coastal areas and the city’s economy.
Maximo Ricohermoso, chairman of the Seaweed Industry Association of the Philippines (SIAP), ASEAN Seaweed Industry Club (SIC), and MCPI Corporation, said Wednesday that the city has all the attributes of a place that fits the requirement since it has well-placed marine protection initiatives.
“It is a place where tourists can be exposed to seaweed farming; see what farmers are doing. They can experience harvesting and probably try out menus made of seaweeds that are freshly harvested,” he said Wednesday.
Ricohermoso said this after signing a partnership agreement with Mayor Lucilo Bayron and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) that is geared towards enhancing production and marketing tie-ups for Puerto Princesa seaweed growers.
The only province, he said, that is putting a premium on creating a niche for seaweed farming tourism is Danajon Bank in Bohol. It is a 130-kilometer double barrier reef that is consisted of three large reefs.
“There is none of this kind of tourism yet. But we are doing it already in Bohol in Danajon, and our farm installation there is a big facility where we could house a hundred people to experience seaweed farming,” he said.
Seaweed farmers can manage the site by creating an organization or a cooperative. “For example on Bat Island in Honda Bay, seaweed farming and tourism can happen. They can go together,” Ricohermoso said, supplying further that the idea can also help protect the environment.
Seaweed farming and environmental protection, he expressed, should be worked out together as they are not against each other, and can even help local economies.
During the event, several seaweed growers’ associations in Puerto Princesa received seaweeds for planting, as well as farming implements, from the fisheries department.
They are part of 13 recognized organizations existing in the coastal areas of Barangays Babuyan, Buenavista, Luzviminda, Kamuning, Sta. Lourdes, Salvacion, San Carlos, San Rafael, and Sta. Cruz, said City Agriculturist Melissa Macasaet.
BFAR Assistant Regional Director Robert Abrebra disclosed they will be included in the list of beneficiaries of around 250 metric tons of seaweeds that will be distributed for production in the city and the province this year.
“Seaweed is one of the five priority commodities of BFAR, and in Palawan it is our number one commodity in focus. For 2018 in the province, including Puerto Princesa, we will distribute 250 metric tons of seaweed seedlings for free,” he revealed.
The distribution and partnership signing is supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under its Cities Development Initiative (CDI).
Bradley Baxter, chief of party of the USAID, said it is a program that closely works with local governments to strengthen the economic competitiveness and resilience of cities, so they become “engines of inclusive growth.”
Some USAID partner cities include Cagayan de Oro, Batangas, General Santos, Legazpi, and Zamboanga.