THE Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) urged Congress to reallocate confidential funds towards fisheries surveillance projects.

“This initiative would empower our agency to strengthen and enhance our existing monitoring, control, and surveillance activities in the WPS (West Philippine Sea) and other fishing grounds to ensure the sustainable use of our marine resources and safeguard the livelihoods of our fisherfolk,” BFAR National Director Demosthenes R. Escoto said in a statement.

The BFAR is one of the 10 agencies affected by budget realignment after the House of Representatives stripped the confidential and intelligence funds of the Office of the Vice-President and the Department of Education amounting to P650 million.

The House said that funds will be given to agencies tasked in protecting national security.

Legislators last week approved the National Government’s P5.786-trillion budget for 2024, which is 9.5% larger than this year’s budget.

“The BFAR respects the wisdom of our lawmakers in determining the need for budget augmentation,” Mr. Escoto added.

BFAR is seeking to eradicate illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing, a condition for the Philippines to access various trade agreements.

It added that it conducts resupply missions in collaboration with other government agencies, particularly the Philippine Coast Guard, to Philippine outposts in disputed waters.

The BFAR launched an P80-million livelihood project aimed at providing essential equipment, gear, and post-harvest training for efficient fishing in the WPS and reduce post-harvest losses. — Adrian H. Halili