Oceana welcomes new rules for amended Fisheries Code
Press Release Date: September 25, 2015
Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala signed the implementing rules and regulations for the amended Fisheries Code on Wednesday, September 23, one week after the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) completed its work.
“This is a positive development in trying to save what is left of Philippine fisheries,” said Gloria Estenzo Ramos, Vice President for Oceana Philippines. “We hope that the BFAR continues with its holistic approach in helping our fisheries recover.”
The new rules require a satellite-based tracking system, called a vessel monitoring system (VMS), for all commercial fishing boats weighing 30 tons and up within the next four years.
Once the rules become effective, the schedule for the VMSM to be applied to boats operating in Philippine waters is as follows:
Above 200 gross tons (GT) – within six months
150 to 200 GT – within one year
100 to 149 GT – within two years
50 to 99 GT – within three years
30 to 49 GT – within four years
The rules also stipulate that within one year, BFAR shall determine the appropriate Vessel Monitoring Measures (VMM) for tracking commercial vessels below 3.1 to 30 gross tons.
“The provision on vessel monitoring is definitely a step in the right direction, as it can help ensure that commercial vessels are fishing in their designated areas,” Ramos said.
Licensing of fishing vessels
To improve registration of boats, BFAR also created a Fishing Vessel Electronic Licensing System that would centralize data.
Furthermore, the agency adopted an ecosystems-based approach in fisheries management.
Ramos welcomed this development, and stressed that “commercial fishing vessel gear licenses should be based on scientific principles rather than just maximizing yields.”
She said there is a need to monitor the enforcement of the amended law, especially in prioritizing access for municipal fishers. Artisanal fishers, considered as the “poorest of the poor,” have complained of competition from illegal commercial fishing allowed in their traditional fishing grounds.
Ramos adds that “The new rules may not be perfect, but they provide stronger mechanisms and remedies for authorities and citizens alike hope for long term sustainable fisheries.”