BFAR seeks tighter rules to fight il­le­gal fishing

The Philippine Star - - AGRICULTURE - By CATHER­INE TA­LAV­ERA

The Bureau of Fish­eries and Aquatic Re­sources is seek­ing bet­ter co­or­di­na­tion among govern­ment agen­cies and bet­ter en­force­ment of laws to fur­ther strengthen its fight against il­le­gal fishing.

“We be­lieve that one of the key part­ners in in­ten­si­fy­ing the fight against il­le­gal fishing is es­tab­lish­ing bet­ter co­or­di­na­tion with the fish­eries’ stake­hold­ers, other rel­e­vant sec­tors and the lo­cal govern­ment units whose man­date is to take care of the mu­nic­i­pal wa­ters,” BFAR na­tional di­rec­tor Ed­uardo Gong­ona said at the first Na­tional Anti-il­le­gal Fishing Sum­mit Tues­day.

In the last three years, BFAR recorded a to­tal of 1,103 ap­pre­hen­sions. Most com­mon vi­o­la­tions were em­ploy­ment of un­li­censed fish­er­folks, fish work­ers and crew; use of ac­tive fishing gears in mu­nic­i­pal wa­ters, bay and fish­eries man­age­ment and unau­tho­rized fishing.

“The en­act­ment of Repub­lic Act 10654 or the amended Philip­pine Fish­eries Code made pos­si­ble the in­creased sanc­tions and penal­ties for il­le­gal fishing as well as adopted rel­e­vant reg­u­la­tory frame­works for the Philip­pine fish­eries re­sources,” Gong­ona said.

BFAR said more than a hun­dred float­ing as­sets had al­ready been de­ployed in 24 of the coun­try’s ma­jor fishing grounds.

The agency’s ad­ju­di­ca­tion com­mit­tee, a body that im­poses ad­min­is­tra­tive fines and penal­ties pro­vided un­der the law, has ex­pe­dited cases on il­le­gal fishing.

Out of the 259 ad­min­is­tra­tive cases filed against fishing ves­sels last year, 236 were re­solved in the same year.

Gong­ona also called for the pro­cure­ment of more fish­eries en­force­ment ves­sels, bet­ter en­gage­ment of mil­i­tary per­son­nel, en­chanced trace­abil­ity of Philip­pine seafood prod­ucts, and the pro­mo­tion of good coastal re­source man­age­ment to com­mu­ni­ties and lo­cal govern­ment units.

He also em­pha­sized the need to har­mo­nize in­puts from com­mer­cial and mu­nic­i­pal fish­eries stake­hold­ers. This is in line with the goal of the first anti-il­le­gal fishing sum­mit.

The two day event will gather Philip­pine lo­cal govern­ment ex­ec­u­tives, na­tional agency of­fi­cials, non-govern­ment or­ga­ni­za­tions, the academe and the fish­eries sec­tor in a bid to in­ten­sify co­op­er­a­tion and part­ner­ships against il­le­gal fishing.

At the end of the sum­mit, a res­o­lu­tion re­flect­ing the com­mit­ment and aspi­ra­tions of var­i­ous fish­eries stake­hold­ers in fighting il­le­gal fishing will be pre­sented to key govern­ment of­fices.

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