Some Thursday ASEAN links:
Good news for Philippine fishermen who lost their livelihoods during Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda: The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) announced yesterday that a combination of private and governmental donations will allow the organization to provide 15,000 new fishing boats.
BFAR’s national director, Asis Perez, said that private donors had already given away 5,000 boats. While the recipients of those boats wouldn’t be eligible for government models, they will still be able to apply for fishing gear and outboard motors.
Unfortunately, many of the country’s fishermen remain unable to work – more than 31,000 boats were destroyed in four regions when the typhoon struck last November.
“18,904 boats were reported destroyed by typhoon Yolanda in Eastern Visayas, 9,744 in Western Visayas, 2,792 in Central Visayas and 215 in the Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan) region,” Perez noted. “The supertyphoon affected 146,748 fisherfolks, including 76,854 in Western Visayas, 43,500 in Eastern Visayas, 24,651 in Central Visayas and 1,743 in Mimaropa.”
Haiyan/Yolanda affected 21 of the Philippines’ 72 provinces containing fishing communities. It also led to a 10 percent drop in nationwide fish production and a five to 10 percent increase in fish and seafood prices across the region.
While donations continue to pour in at BFAR, Perez said that a lack of materials and professional watercraft makers is slowing the production and distribution of fishing boats.
Over in Bali, the Indonesian husband of a missing Japanese scuba instructor has joined the search and rescue effort. Putu Mahardena Sembah’s wife is the last of seven divers – who went missing last Friday – to be accounted for. While five were found alive on top of a coral reef on Monday, the body of a sixth was found floating in the water on Tuesday.
Sembah and his wife jointly ran the Yellow Scuba diving operator that dropped the seven Japanese women at a dive point in Nusa Lembongan. The area is known for its strong currents, and the divers were separated from the boat after heavy rain clouded the water.
“The chances of finding her alive are very slim now that she has been missing for five days,” said local police chief Nyoman Suarsika. “Whether alive or dead, we will try our very best to find her.”
Finally, in Malaysia, firefighters are battling peat fires in Jalan Kebun and Johan Setia. The fires have become an annual concern since farmers began the process of slash-and-burn faming in the area.
This year, a water shortage is making containment efforts more tricky than usual. The burning plots of land are also in remote areas.
“This makes it difficult for us when we carry out our 24-hour enforcement rounds to detect fresh fires or catch those starting fires,” said Klang Municipal Council enforcement director Andry Arman Masron.
Irrigation ditches and canals surrounding the fires have been rendered useless due to a recent hot and dry spell in the region. Most have been reduced to “sludge,” according to one local fire chief.
Firefighters are hoping for rain to aid them in extinguishing the blazes.