Fisheries Summit renews pledge to combat illegal fishing
Press Release Date: October 23, 2015
Key fisheries stakeholders met to discuss the amended Fisheries Code or Republic Act 10654 and the recently signed implementing rules and regulations (IRR), which sets stiffer penalties and tightens rules against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
More than 100 delegates from the academe, science community, local government units, fisherfolk, and non-government organizations attended the two-day Sustainable Fisheries Summit, where the approved IRR and amended Fisheries Code were presented for the first time.
“The no-nonsense implementation of the amended Fisheries Code and implementing regulations is the next step in halting the decline of Philippine fisheries. We need to ensure that the law is operationalized with proper funding, continued technical and scientific studies, and capacity building of enforcers, policy makers and citizens. Most importantly, we need the full participation of concerned stakeholders,” said lawyer Gloria Estenzo Ramos, Vice President for Oceana Philippines.
The summit, held at the Institute of Social Order (ISO) in Ateneo de Manila University last October 19-20, underscored the need to strengthen the fisheries network for sustainable fisheries management. The gathering also emphasized the importance for key fisheries stakeholders to understand RA 10654, for effective law enforcement and monitoring.
In his speech, Agriculture Undersecretary for Fisheries and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Director Asis Perez stressed the need for good governance to prevent the further exploitation of Philippine seas.
“The lack of law enforcement is the primary reason for our depleted seas. We need good governance to properly manage our seas, as this is the reason behind the decline of our fisheries,” said Perez.
A report from BFAR’s National Stock Assessment Program found that 10 out of 13 fishing grounds in the Philippines are already heavily exploited. Due to low fish catch, the income of municipal fishers also declined, making them the poorest of the poor with the highest poverty incidence level at 39.1 percent.
Perez said BFAR will prioritize the conduct of capacity building and law enforcement training for around 1,000 local government units as part of its duties under the amended Fisheries Code.
He also led the signing of the Katipunan Declaration, which confirmed the commitment of the summit’s delegates to help ensure the enforcement of new provisions in the amended Fisheries Code such as strict compliance of the law and the requirement for a monitoring system for all commercial fishing vessels.
The Declaration called on the fisheries bureau to support coastal communities through enforcement trainings and education campaigns, and harmonize policies among government agencies.
It also urged BFAR to be consistent in banning active fishing gear within 15 kilometers of municipal waters, to ensure that fishing habitats and livelihoods of fishers are protected.
The fisheries summit was organized by Oceana Philippines, Greenpeace, WWF, NGOs for Fisheries Reform, Institute of Social Order (ISO), USAID EcoFish Project, Pangisda, PAKISAMA, and Haribon.
“Through the Summit, we continue to strengthen our collaboration with government and other key partners in moving forward to prevent, fight and deter IUU fishing and achieve our over-arching goal of sustainable management of our fisheries sector and restore its abundance,” Ramos said.