January 11, 2017 – PACPI hosted a Partners’ Meeting on Gear Swap Program Evaluation at the Crab House Restaurant and Tourist Inn in Tagbilaran City to evaluate and discuss the progress of implementation of the gear exchange program piloted last year in fishing communities along Danajon Bank.

In attendance were BFAR Regional Office VII, lead by Regional Dir. Allan Poquita, USAID-ECOFISH, LGUs of Getafe, Inabanga and Talibon, as well as National Fisheries Institute Crab Council Asia Envoy Dr. Abdul Ghofar, marking his first visit in the Philippines.

The activity aimed to review the activities and accomplishments in relation to the Gear Swap Program (GSP) and evaluate the overall implementation of the project. By the end of the day, challenges and interventions will have to be identified. Furthermore, it aimed to provide venue to draw and renew commitments from stakeholders sustain the current FIP efforts.

Banking from the results of the SPR assessment completed in second quarter of 2015, the GSP was intended for BSC fishers of Talibon, Inabanga, and Getafe. It aims to promote use of ecologically-sound gears and phase out the use of lift nets by incentivising crab pots. A total of 38 crab fishers participated in the survey conducted by PACPI from October to December 2016 in order to know the extent of utilization of the crab pots given by BFAR. Results showed that while many believed that lift nets are harmful to the stocks, more than 80% of the respondents in Talibon and Inabanga have never tried using the crab pots and are even more reluctant to use it. Most common reasons were “pot is too big”, “mesh is too big”, and “bait is expensive or not available.” In general, the problem lies on the technical specifications of the crab pots. Besides gear-specific concerns, the lack of crab catch data made it harder for authorities to fully document gear efficiency.

At the end of the day, the government committed to review the crab pots and redesign if the situation calls for it. PACPI will continue to collect data to fully document the impacts of the new gear to the catch landings.