El Nino forces shift to 'blue economy'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 08 2015 11:35 PM | Updated as of Oct 09 2015 08:51 AM

If the land is dry, it may be time to set sights on the sea.

Now, food security authorities plan to maximize aquaculture, amid crises in agriculture brought about by the El Nino phenomenon.

Called the "blue economy," this strategy entails looking at the ocean to help every APEC economy to come up with sustainable food supply.

Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Asis Perez said this was discussed in the recent Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Agriculture Summit in Iloilo.

“We used to have the green economy but now is the blue economy. This is just to emphasize that the oceans and the coastal area can actually provide us with a lot of economic benefits including those that has something to do with food,” Perez added.

The severe drought is expected to adversely affect the fish catch in the country. Perez said fish like tuna migrate to colder water, which explains the decline of tuna harvest during the mild El Niño in January and February.

Perez added they are expecting lower tuna catch as drought persists. Fish supply may dwindle in 41 provinces, said Perez.

Freshwater fish aren't spared either, as El Nino may significantly decrease water for fish ponds and brackish water.

He added that low supply of fresh water leads to a decreased oxygen supply in brackish water, which eventually leads to fish kills.

Perez said they regularly monitor the water quality of brackish water to ensure enough oxygen supply.

Though the country's aquaculture is also expected to suffer due to El Niño, Perez is confident that they have learned from the 2009 drought.

LEARNING FROM A DISASTER

Perez said fish loss may be better arrested this year, noting that aquaculture is now done in the sea and not in brackish water.

"If you move this to the sea, then you actually solve the problem of loss of water," Perez added.

Perez said the government will also support fishermen, through targeted intervention.

Additional livelihood opportunities for affected fishermen such as includes mangrove planting will also be implemented.