The Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) Region IX recently conducted a turn over ceremony of the 62-footer steel-hulled Purse Seine Fishing Vessel to the Sindangan Fisherfolk Federation (SFF) on August 8, 2023, at Sindangan Port, Barangay Calatunan, Zamboanga del Norte.

The said ceremony commenced with a traditional blessing of the vessel presided over by Reverend Father Marlon Empeynado, invoking the grace and providence of the Almighty over the vessel, crew, and its future endeavor. Mayor Labadlabad expressed his thanks to DA-BFAR 9 for entrusting the significant initiative to the people of Sindangan. He emphasized the responsibility that comes along with the provision and assured that it would be maximized to uplift the local fishing industry and work collectively towards DA-BFAR’s vision of empowering fisherfolk for the challenges of the modern era.

Regional Director Al-zath K. Kunting, in his message, focused on empowerment – the capacitation of the simple municipal fisherfolks from producing mere kilos of fish per day from toiling and braving the waves to producing metric tons of fish per day using the commercial purse seine fishing vessel. RD Kunting also expounded on how the realization of this vision can truly transform the Sindanganon fisherfolks if they are focused and dedicated to working hand in hand. He then assured that support will be given including marketing assistance through DA-BFAR’s logistics, such as the provision of reefer vans to deliver their product swiftly and directly to the market, a move set to bypass intermediaries and bolster the fisherfolk federation’s earnings.

The signing of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was also done in the presence of the LGU of Sindangan, DA-BFAR-IX, and SFF represented by Mayor Labadlabad, RD Kunting, and Federation President Mr. Remio D. Ocas who affixed their signatures, formalizing their roles and responsibilities in this collaborative endeavor as witnessed by PFO Andaya and Barangay Chairman Zosima dela Cerna, ensuring the legality and commitment of all stakeholders involved. Prior to embarking on an exploration of the vessel, RD Kunting, and Mayor Labadlabad were joined by their respective teams for a brief tour.

The ceremony culminated with a closing message by PFO Andaya who thanked everyone for their presence and support in the realization of the project. She reiterated the commitment of the bureau to continually support the fisherfolks in coordination with the LGUs and partners in service and the crucial roles of everyone in the success of the project.

The vessel is projected to contribute a substantial 200 metric tons of fish per year to the national supply, thereby significantly improving the economic conditions of marginal fisherfolk, particularly in Sindangan. The collaborative effort stands as a testament to the power of partnership and dedication in fostering sustainable growth within local fishing communities. With the vessel now under the care of SFF, the promise of enhanced prosperity for the fisherfolk and the wider community is brightly illuminated on the horizon.