MANILA - The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources on Thursday called on Filipino fishermen to swarm the West Philippine Sea, which produced 324,000 metric tons of fish for the country annually.
The West Philippine Sea generates about 7 percent of the country’s' fisheries output in which a significant portion are shipped to Metro Manila, BFAR director Eduardo Gongona told ANC.
"We should be there. That area is our traditional fishing ground," he said. "We should be there so that we can get our ample share from the bounties of the sea."
Gongona made the call as dozens of Chinese vessels were spotted in the area in the past months, which prompted the Philippine government to file diplomatic protests against Beijing.
On Wednesday, the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea reported that 5 Chinese Coast Guard vessels have remained in the country's territorial waters.
To ensure the country's food security, the BFAR chief urged Filipinos to fish in the West Philippine Sea.
"We are telling our Filipino fishermen to go out and fish in the West Philippine Sea because we need that more than 300,000 metric tons of fish for our supply of food," he said.
"The best the government can do is to send assets there to protect the fishermen, protect the fishing vessel and protect the environment that produces food," Gongona added.
The country has nearly 300,000 fishermen and more than 100 commercial fishing boats ply regularly in West Philippine Sea.