FISHERFOLK can be taught to look after the environment while earning a livelihood with the proper instruction, the Department of Science and Technology (DoST) said.

In a news conference, Edwin C. Villar, deputy executive director for research and development of DoST Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD) said that educating communities is key to understanding the importance of conserving biodiversity while also earning a living.

“Essentially for biodiversity and conservation, it’s really an uphill battle to educate the communities… You involve, right from the start ‘yung (these) communities and then ano ang pwede nating ibibigay na (what can we offer as an) option?,” he said.

“The important factor is that we have to really educate the fisherfolk and the farmers, but at the same time provide them with options, livelihood options na (which are) parallel to what we do in conservation (giving them an) appreciation of biodiversity,” he said.

Patrick C. Cabaitan, an assistant professor at the University of the Philippines-Marine Science Institute (UP-MSI) said during the briefing that protecting giant claims is possible by educating fishermen that use dynamite.

He noted that in Bolinao, Pangasinan, some sites are devoted to catching fish for consumption, while others have become tourist attractions, giving fishermen an alternative source of income as tour guides.

UP-MSI established giant clam cultures starting in the 1980s to prevent the species’ extinction. Giant clams from this site have helped restock other locations. The program hopes to educate fishermen and communities of the importance of the giant clam and ultimately marine conservation.

Another program targets fishermen who practice electrofishing to catch eel.

“We would like to build awareness that this method is not sustainable… In fact pati ‘yung ibang (even the other) species namamatay (other species die). Electrofishing will kill everything that is within the radius of the electrocution,” Plutomeo M. Nieves, dean of Bicol University Tabaco Campus, said during the briefing.

The program aims to manage and conserve eel, which is thought to have huge market potential for export. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang