By Nikky Necessario

Rare Inc. Philippines, together with Balangay’s Best by Fishers & Changemakers, Inc. (FCI), and Slow Food Youth Network Philippines (SFYN), conducted a workshop about sustainable seafood/slow fishing, followed by a food tasting cooked by three well-known chefs using the products of Balangay’s Best.

Rare is a conservation organization working with over 17 fisherfolk communities in the country. FCI is a social enterprise which arose after the devastation of typhoon Yolanda in Bantayan Island, Cebu, and which gave birth to the dried seafood brand ‘Balangay’s Best.’

The workshop was facilitated by Rare’s Director for Marketing and Enterprise, Cris Lomboy. Attendees were taught different fishing methods such as the single net fishing (a single net used to catch many fish in one catching), double or triple net fishing (two to three nets meshed together to catch a larger number of fish), and hook-and-line fishing (making use of live baitfish with only a reel and a barbless hook), and their effects on the environment and the economy of the communities. It also demonstrated how the government intervenes in the fishing community when needed such as having “no-take” zones or sanctuaries to preserve fish from being endangered when fishing is becoming excessive. The workshop showed the interconnection between the environment, fisherfolk, market, and the government. This was Rare’s first time having this workshop among non-fisherfolk people.

Rare and FCI promote sustainable fishing by educating the fisherfolk about when to use what type of fishing method depending on what is applicable and productive, without destroying the environment. In particular, they suggest using the hook-and-line fishing method because this does not destroy the fish’s habitat and it avoids catching juvenile fishes. As per the words of Dhang Tecson, FCI’s co-founder, “It (sustainable fishing) is important to be able to have (a) supply (of fish) for the next generation.” She also said that sustainable fishing provides livelihood for people, as well as addressing the issue on food security. Balangay’s Best also promotes alternatives such as their Bessy Bangsi (Parexocoetus brachypterus) or flying fish, other than the usual fish consumed, such as bangus. Aside from sustainable fishing, Rare and FCI also teach fisherfolks financial and business strategies to track their income, and has even established a trust fund for its members.

The workshop was followed by a food tasting of some of Balangay’s Best products cooked by the well-known chefs Datu Shariff Pendatun III, Rap Cristobal of Purple Yam Malate, and Alaine Salvanera. Aside from the workshop and the food tasting, there was also a photo exhibit showcased at the event.

FCI is calling for volunteers for integration in Bantayan Island to encourage the youth to know more about the fisherfolk communities.

For more information, visit Rare Inc. Philippines.

This appeared in Agriculture Online’s June 2019 issue.