LEGAZPI CITY: In the near future, poor families in Masbate’s fishing communities would no longer be living in scarcity while relying mainly on fishing for their daily subsistence but would be heading towards a more meaningful life through a highly profitable venture in seaweed farming.
A commercial seaweed production project designed by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in partnership with the International Labor Organization (ILO) is now being readied for implementation initially for hundreds of marginal fishers in Naro Island of Cawayan, Masbate.
Naro is an island at the middle of Jintololo Channel and Visayan Sea with four barangays -- Naro, Lo-oc, Punta and Talisay - with a total population of around 2,000 households of indigent families, mostly dependent on fishing for their livelihood.
The project would attempt to liberate these families from the bondage of poverty by establishing an alternative livelihood aimed at drawing them away from fishing where child labor is generally prevalent.
Based on the 2009 official poverty statistics, fishermen posted the highest poverty incidence for nine basic sectors in the Philippines at 41.4%.
The 2011 Survey on Children done by the National Statistics Office (NSO) on the other hand revealed that there were 4.2 million working children all over the country, 2.4 million of which classified as child labor because of their exposure to hazardous conditions like fishing.
The DOLE, as lead implementing agency of the Philippine Program Against Child Labor (PPACL) has been taking serious effort in carrying out measures and strategies in the campaign against child labor.
The ILO is an international organization with a national campaign in the Philippines dubbed “Batang Malaya: A Child Labor-Free Philippines” being undertaken by its National Child Labor Committee.
For its part, the DOLE has come up with a Child Labor-Free Barangay Campaign, a nationwide program that intends to bring back millions of child laborers and children at risks to schools from works like mining, gold panning, fishing, among others that are considered hazardous.
All over the country, the NSO’s 2011 Survey on Children reported that the over 2.4 million children of school ages from poor families in child labor are forced to leave schools to help the family earn a living. About 10,000 of these children laborers mostly engaged in small scale mining and fishing activities are in the province of Masbate, according to a recent study of the DOLE.
Nathaniel Lacambra, the DOLE regional director for Bicol based in this city, on Tuesday said that under the seaweed production project for Naro Island, local fisher folks will be trained on commercial growing of seaweeds that promise sufficient family income so that children are drawn away from labor and sent back to school. - PNA