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The Department of Agriculture, through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), distributed 15,000 units of fiberglass fishing boats to fishermen all over the country as part of the FB Pagbabago program, a statement released on June 22, 2019 read.
Under the program, DA-BFAR identifies low income fishermen, including calamity victims, and provides one fishing boat to every two families, a strategy which was designed to prevent the recipients from selling their boats.
In 2016, the DA-BFAR distributed 3,724 units and in 2017, it reached 7,494 or more than double the units that they distributed during the first year.
Last year, they distributed 3,693 units and in 2019, they released 65 units, including the 12 units given to 22 crew members of the F/B GEM-VER 1, which figured in a maritime incident in the Recto Bank, West Philippine Sea on June 10.
DA Secretary Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol said that the program started during the administration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte in response to the request of the small-time fishers for sturdy boats for fishing in municipal waters, which means that portion of the coastal waters within the 15-kilometer radius from the mainland.
“Ito po ay designed for municipal waters only. Ang una pong nakatanggap nito ay mga mangingisdang Badjao sa Davao na sa kaunaunahang pagkakataon ay nakatanggap ng tulong mula sa gobyerno,” he said.
Each boat is made of fiberglass-reinforced plastic and is equipped with an engine, fish nets and fishing gears, including life vests. The boats are fabricated by the fishermen themselves and they are paid for their labor.
The counterpart of the fisherman is the outrigger or “katig” which could be made out of bamboo poles.