After finishing an intensive month-long training on tropical fish stock assessment, a new generation of stock assessment experts is ready to contribute to a higher-level science-based management and policy formulation to sustain the country’s fisheries production.

The training, held in two phases: October 3-15 and November 7-18, 2022, was composed of project leaders, assistant project leaders, data analysts, and researchers from the National Stock Assessment Program (NSAP). NSAP is one of the banner programs of the DA-National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (DA-NFRDI).

Following the establishment of the Fisheries Management Areas (FMAs) under the Fisheries Administrative Order (FAO) 263, the trainees were grouped according to the FMA that they belong.

In this second training phase, each FMA did a joint analysis for data validation, analyses reruns, and presentation and discussion on potential reference points (RPs) and harvest control rules (HCRs).

“The tropical fish stock assessment is an indispensable aspect of our effort to balance the conservation of our aquatic resources and sustaining the sufficient supply of fish and other seafood in the country,” said Atty. Demosthenes Escoto, OIC-Director of the DA-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) during the closing program in Butong, Taal, Batangas.

“As such, the importance of training our participants could not be further emphasized, for we are at a crucial time of ensuring that the future generation will still have fish to catch,” he said.

“Once the spaces of our stocks are defined, that’s only the time we will know when these harvest controls can be converted into tangible interventions,” added Prof. Nygiel Armada, chief of party of the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

In partnership with USAID Fish Right, the specialized training-workshop aimed to ensure the development of the new generation of experts dedicated to fish stock assessment by strengthening their foundational knowledge and skills in assessing tropical fish stocks and boosting further their confidence in management deliberations, scientific conferences, public webinars, stakeholder consultations, and other similar engagements.

“Let us find a solution one step at a time. We don’t have to be great. We only need to be better than who we were yesterday,” concluded Divina Ignacio, project leader, NSAP Region IX, during the FMA plenary presentation.

Serving as resource speakers were recognized Filipino stock assessment experts: Gerry Silvestre, Elviro Cinco, Prof. Nygiel Armada and Dr. Andre James Uychiangco of USAID Fish Right, Sheryll Mesa of BFAR VI, and Francisco Torres Jr., NSAP Co-Project Coordinator. ### (Cyrenes Moncawe)