Press Release
February 14, 2012

Legarda: Capitalize on Our Resources to End Hunger among Filipinos

Senator Loren Legarda today said that the government must capitalize on the country's rich resources to address the lingering problem of hunger that many Filipinos are still experiencing.

"The Philippines now imports galunggong and dilis. The country's most popular fish is not just getting fewer. It is also getting smaller and more expensive. The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources said the country's marine grounds have become heavily exploited over the years. Ten of 13 areas mapped are said to be very heavily exploited," Legarda pointed out.

She said that the country has one of the world's richest ecosystems, characterized by extensive coral reefs, sea-grass beds and dense mangroves. The Philippines is 6th in global fish and aquaculture production in 2008.

However, 4.5 million families continue to experience hunger based on the last quarter survey of 2011.

"This alarming irony becomes even more glaring in the fact that while we are rich in fisheries and coastal resources, among the poorest in our country are coastal communities with 4 of 10 coastal residents living under poverty line," the Senator stressed.

In this light, Legarda sought the Senate's approval of the agreement between the Philippines and the International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management (ICLARM) to establish the Office of the WorldFish Center here in the country.

In sponsoring Committee Report No. 124, Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, explained that the WorldFish Center, also known as the ICLARM, is an international research organization dedicated to reducing poverty and hunger by improving fisheries and aquaculture.

She stressed that the presence of ICLARM in the country, through a duly established Office, will ensure continuity in its programs and joint initiatives with the Philippine government and other partner institutions for the development of the fisheries sector.

"Over the years, the ICLARM has been working closely with a number of research institutions in the Philippines to increase fish production, improving resource management and equitable distribution of benefits in developing countries and protecting the environment," she said.

"The presence of ICLARM in the country will contribute to our efforts in meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on poverty reduction and hunger elimination. The World Fish Center's projects on small-scale fisheries practice and aquaculture will contribute to improving nutrition and raising incomes in rural areas. Its work on biodiversity information systems will provide scientific basis for projects involving natural resources management and aquaculture. Its work on environmental conservation, jointly with our institutions, will be key to fighting poverty, food security and over-all economic development," Legarda concluded.

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