The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) launched the “LAYAG-WPS” initiative on Tuesday, April 16, aimed at enhancing the livelihoods of Filipino fishing communities along the West Philippine Sea. 

The program, formally titled “Livelihood Activities to Enhance Fisheries Yields and Economic Gains from the West Philippine Sea,” seeks to harness the potential of this resource-rich fishing ground. It focuses on stimulating fisheries-based economic opportunities across the Ilocos, Central Luzon, and Mimaropa regions.

During the launch of the project, Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel, Jr. expressed gratitude to the fisherfolk for their efforts to secure not only their livelihood but also the food security of the country by standing as the “pillar of the blue economy,” or the sustainable use of ocean resources for the growth of our economy and the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystems in our seas.

Laurel assured full support from the Department of Agriculture (DA) for programs like LAYAG-WPS, mentioning that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has directed national agencies to align government programs, preventing overlaps and repetitions to ensure they complement each other and achieve targets.

National and local government officials also distributed livelihood inputs, such as gillnets, to approximately 100 fisherfolk. Additionally, 50 women fisherfolk participated in post-harvest training and received related implements.

Furthermore, DA-BFAR handed over 62-footer Fiber Reinforced Plastic (RFP) vessels, equipped with modernized fishing gear, to selected fisherfolk associations from Central Luzon and the Ilocos Region.

“The DA-BFAR commits to the task of empowering Filipino fisherfolk and ensuring that this program is justly and equitably implemented,” BFAR Director Escoto said.

He also urged the agency’s multi-sector partners to maintain coordination and collaboration for the effective development of the West Philippine Sea.

Meanwhile, fisherfolk beneficiaries expressed their appreciation for the LAYAG-WPS program.

Fausto Alpay, one of the fisherfolk leaders and beneficiaries, shared his enthusiasm for the livelihood inputs they received.

“Kami ay lubos na nagpapasalamat sa ating pamahalaan sa pangunguna ng DA-BFAR at lokal na pamahalaan ng Zambales sa kanilang suporta para sa gaya naming mangingisda. Malaking tulong ito para sa aming kabuhayan,” Alpau said.

Also present during the launch were Western Command Chief Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos and Philippine Coast Guard Commandant CG Adm. Ronnie Gil Gavan, Zambales Governor Hermogenes Ebdane, Zambales Representatives Jefferson Khonghun (1st District) and Doris E. Maniquiz (2nd District), and Subic Mayor Jonathan John Khonghun.