Fisherfolks whose livelihood and subsistence are dependent on the Visayan Sea are optimistic for their future as they receive access to financial services and their entrepreneurial skills are improved under the partnership of USAID Fish Right Program and Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation (NWTF).
Selected participating fisherfolks and fisherfolks associations in Negros Occidental received various training to improve their capacities in developing alternative and supplemental livelihoods such as business concept formulation, finance, marketing, organizational development, and financial education.
Access to financial services remains limited for the fishery sector, particularly for small-scale fishers. Few financial institutions target this group, leaving them dependent on informal lenders for their financial needs. At the same time, marine biodiversity faces various threats such as overfishing, illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUUF), declining habitats, and more.
Based on recent studies, the Visayan Sea has lost about 2 percent of its species richness per decade and a decline in its fisheries production was observed in the 1990’s. The partnership between USAID Fish Right Program and Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation targets to increase available finance for responsible coastal and marine resource use, enhance the resilience of these resources, and capacitate key actors, mainly small-scale fisheries, on sustainable fisheries management.
The initial set of trainings were conducted to the partner fisherfolk associations last August-November 2021. NWTF’s savings, microfinance, personal and community loans services and strengths in business development along with Fish Right’s expertise on fisheries management will continue to be tapped in this partnership. Both Fish Right Program and NWTF are committed to increasing their reach in Negros Occidental communities to strengthen local fishing economies while protecting natural resources.
NWTF Executive Director, Suzzette Gaston stated,”We at NWTF are very excited to explore where this partnership will lead us. Personally, I feel really glad that we can help more people and communities. And also for the chance to work with Fish Right in advocating sustainable fisheries.”
“The USAID Fish Right Program is grateful to partner with NWTF in providing fisherfolks with increased access to safety nets and financial services as they continue to participate and champion sustainable fisheries. We are excited to see how this partnership will move forward and impact the lives of our local fishers and their communities,” said Nygiel Armada, Chief of Party of the Fish Right Program.
The start of the closed season in the Visayan Sea last November 15, which is considered an important instrument in managing the country’s fish stocks, and the World Fisheries Day that was celebrated last November 21 are both a reminder for everyone to continue caring for our marine life. Hence the enthusiasm and determination of NWTF and Fish Right in highlighting the importance of healthy ocean ecosystems and sustainable fish stocks.*