Fisherfolk in San Agustin, Romblon, face a challenge in their daily endeavors due to the shortage of ice for preserving their catch. The insufficient supply of ice in their town, which serves more than 2,000 fishermen, has prompted concerns about fish quality and economic losses.
Among these fishermen is Manuel Cesar, a father of three, who is actively engaged with non-government organizations advocating for gov’t assistance to address the needs of the local fishing community.
“We struggle to preserve our fish here because we don’t have a source of ice. Sometimes, we sell the fish we catch at low prices, and sometimes, we even give them away because we lack proper facilities,” Cesar expressed.
However, there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon. On Saturday, the Department of Science and Technology Mimaropa (DOST-Mimaropa) and the Local Government Unit of San Agustin jointly led the groundbreaking ceremony for a proposed 1-ton capacity Ice Plant at the Marine Fish Landing Center along Carmen Bay in San Agustin.
This facility is expected to be a game-changer for the local fishermen as this will serve as a reliable source of ice, enabling fishermen to preserve their catch effectively and ensure its quality. This will also be the second government-funded ice plant project in Romblon, where fishing is one of the residents’ major occupation and source of income.
According to Dr. Josefina Abilay, DOST Mimaropa Regional Director, the ice plant will be equipped with P2.5M worth of advanced technical systems and essential accessories, including a crusher, storage facility, and more. The equipment will be the counterpart of the DOST-Mimaropa while the land, building, power, and water requirement will be the counterpart of the LGU.
In his speech, San Agustin town Mayor Denon Madrona extended his gratitude to the DOST-Mimaropa for spearheading this vital project, which promises to uplift the local fishermen in his community. He also set a positive tone for the future of San Agustin’s fishing community and its partnership with the Department.
DOST Secretary Encourages Value Addition
Moreover, DOST Secretary Renato Solidum Jr. offered a piece of advice to the fishermen of San Agustin, urging them to explore opportunities for value addition to their catch. He recognized that enhancing the quality and presentation of their seafood could translate into higher market prices and increased support for their businesses.
Secretary Solidum stressed the significance of improving the packaging of their products, highlighting that relying on old newspapers, which are prone to quick degradation, is not ideal.
“Did you know that the food products made here can also be sold if you have better packaging? Don’t just use old newspapers because they deteriorate quickly. The Department of Science and Technology is here to assist you,” according to Solidum.
He encouraged the fishermen to embrace modern and more durable packaging materials that could better preserve the freshness and appeal of their seafood.
The same sentiment was also echoed by Romblon Congressman Eleandro Madrona. He emphasized that instead of transporting the fish caught in Romblon to places like Lucena and neighboring provinces for processing, it would be more advantageous to process them within the province. This approach would ensure that the added value generated benefits Romblon directly.