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Empowering fishers, uplifting communities on the coast of Santa Cruz

SANTA CRUZ, OCCIDENTAL MINDORO, April 23, 2021 – Department of Agriculture (DA) – Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) Program Director Myer G. Mula sat down with Santa Cruz fishers to discuss ways on expanding their aquatic production.

The meeting was held in the newly built 30×30 feet (ft) headquarters of the Samahan ng Sandigang Mangingisda (SamaSaMa) fishers’ association. It was built from the earnings of the association since the operation of the SAAD livelihood projects.

The association was organized in 2010 but called to qualify for the program’s interventions in 2018. They received the Fish Aggregating Device (FAD) or Payao Project in 2019 and the Fish Cage Project in 2020.

BFAR-SAAD’s aquatic livelihood projects

Illustration lifted from: SpringerLink

The payao project of the SamaSaMa fishers association in Occidental Mindoro is located 17 kilometers (km) away from the coast in the municipal waters of Santa Cruz.

A payao or a fish aggregating device is installed in predetermined areas to provide marginal fishermen a specific area to catch fish (BFAR Information Group, 2012). This project aims to reduce fishing ventures and expenses of fishers.

Payao has three functional parts consisting of the floating platform, the anchorage, and the attractant. The floating platform is usually made up of hollow metals, plastic drums, or bamboo raft, while the attractant is usually composed of coconut fronds hanging from a rope connected to the floating platform. A cable line attached to an anchor weight made of concrete secures the floating platform. This way, a payao can be installed in both shallow and deep-sea areas (Affleap, 2010). Payao works by controlling fish behavior, keeping fishes in their artificial shelter (attractant).

According to Mr. Renante Laurena, BFAR-Santa Cruz Agricultural Technician on Fisheries, payao units are being monitored every three weeks, and harvested through fishing nets with holes measuring not less than 3 centimeters size, as per the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources’ (BFAR) regulations, to spare small fishes.

SAAD chief Mula secured the association another set of payao projects for the expansion of their production. The provision will add another 10 payaos to the existing 10 units owned by the association.

Bangus Fish Cage

Meanwhile, a 10×10 ft fish cage that stands by the Aribugan river is managed by the same association. They currently culture Bangus fish.

The one-unit fish cage was turned over in December 2019, where free 17,000 bangus fingerlings from the research station hatchery of BFAR 4-B have been given for start-up livelihood.

With the assistance of Santa Cruz Provincial Fisheries Office representative Archie Rufon and Municipal Agriculturist of Santa Cruz Josefina D. Villa, Director Mula ordered to turn over another 10×10 ft fish cage for the fishers to maximize their area for bangus, lapu-lapu, and snapper fish species culture. The said project is on the list of the BFAR-SAAD interventions for FY 2021.

Bayanihan in the fishing community

While the materials of building the fish cage and the units of payao were provided by the program,  SamaSaMa fishing community takes pride in their brand of unity. The fish pen and payao were built with the bare hands of their members to secure and establish the group’s operations.

In addition, members take turns maintaining and harvesting their aquatic produce, while some members stay in the headquarters managing inventory and stocks. The organization also opens its headquarters for community use as a warehouse and town meeting venue.

With another set of payao and fish cage units coming their way, the fishers’ group are positive that they can expand production and save more earnings to eventually venture into larger fishing production means.###


Writer: Jessamae Gabon, SAAD NPMO Information Officer



Mr. Renante Laurena, BFAR Santa Cruz Agricultural Technician on Fisheries


Cafe, A. (2010, September 27). Fish Aggregating Device Payao, Enhances Small Fisherman’s Catch At Sea. Ideas Galore.


DA BFAR Information Group. (2012, May 11). Payaos are only for municipal waters. BFAR News.

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