Lavezares is located in the northwest corner of Samar, the third largest island in the Philippines, on the edge of the Pacific Ocean and thus often one of the first hit during typhoon season. The majority of community members make a living through farming and/or fishing. Fishermen are faced with increasing demands from a growing population but dwindling fish stocks from overfishing. They report that their catches are smaller and it takes longer to make the catch than it did in previous years. Some resort to illegal activities like dynamite or compressor fishing in order to catch enough fish to sell and to support their families. This is not only dangerous, and sometimes deadly to the fishermen, but also damages critical habitats for fish and other marine animals. Fisherman must also deal with typhoon season (also known as lean season) when the seas are too rough for them to fish. With climate change comes an increasingly volatile lean season, meaning less economic security for the fishermen and their families.
This sustainable aquaculture project will support the construction of large fish pens for raising and harvesting fish, to ensure a steady source of income and food for fishermen and the Lavezares community. Income from the fish sales will be used to buy new fingerlings and feed to begin a new round of harvest, and to make any needed repairs to the fish pens. Money left over will be split between participants to increase their monthly income. A guardhouse will be built to protect the fish pens as well as the coastal resources in the area from illegal activities, with members rotating watch each day. The project will impact participants and their families by increasing their monthly incomes and thus raising their quality of life. The people in the surrounding areas will benefit from the food security provided by the fish raised, and will benefit from the deterrent of illegal activities and resulting ecosystem improvements from healthier mangroves, seagrasses, and fish stocks in the area.
The ST-BFARMC members attended a training, which was facilitated by representatives from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). The Municipal Mayor and the Municipal Planning and Development Coordinator (MPDC) were able to attend in the morning and gave inspirational messages. The DTI were so impressed with the enthusiasm and motivation from the ST-BFARMC members, that they invited them to a second training, which focused on business expense and savings techniques. The fish pen is complete, and the ST-BFARMC members have been feeding and managing the fish every day. The first harvest day took place and the group were able to make a small income and reinvested money for the next harvest. The group is very committed to the sustainability of their project, and are exploring a potential partnership with the local tourism office to offer educational tours for both students and tourists.
"The project is exciting to me because it can help my family more and add income to our household." - Ruben, Project Participant
"I am excited for this project because it will be a big help to my family. Our group has been united along the way." - Sotero, Project Participant