BFAR seeks tighter rules to fight illegal fishing
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.