DA assures EU of PHL’s commitment vs illegal fishing

By , on June 12, 2014



MANILA — The Philippines, through the Department of Agriculture (DA), on Thursday assured the European Union (EU) that it is fully committed — and would continue to make progress on an agreed action plan — against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUUF) in both domestic and high seas.

This is in response to the advice of European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, who — in a briefing held June 10 in Brussels, Belgium — sought the country’s commitment in deterring and preventing IUUF to avoid the possibility of being identified as a non-cooperating country in the international fight against the illegal practice.

The Philippines is one of the exporters of agri-fisheries products to the EU.

In a statement released Thursday, the DA said the Philippine government has been actively and positively engaging the European Commission’s Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG-MARE) in informal dialogues to address issues on IUUF for the last two years.

“The Philippine Government has started and made substantial progress in pursuing legal, administrative and budgetary reforms to effect good governance in the fishing sector to address, not only IUUF, but also its concomitant cause or drivers,” the DA said.

It added that during the last informal dialogue with DG-MARE on June 3-6, 2014, the agency, through the its Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), has reiterated all actions and progress made on the IUUF issue.

These include the adoption of the National Plan of Action (NPOA), that was signed as Executive Order No. 154 by President Benigno S. Aquino III in December 2013, which prompted the creation of an Inter-agency Philippine Committee against IUUF.

Also included are initiatives to amend the national Fisheries Code to further strengthen policy instruments against IUUF; and the passage of a new traceability regulation (FAO 251 s. of 2014) to help ensure that only non-IUU fish will make it to Philippine markets.

Meanwhile, the DA said it has already instituted fundamental reforms in its fisheries monitoring control and surveillance, as exemplified by a fully functional Vessel Monitoring System (VMS); the acquisition of 97 multi mission patrol craft; and the funding for 2 units of 55-meter multi-mission vessels to help monitor Philippine-flagged fishing vessel operating in high seas.

The DA said that the above efforts would soon be complemented by the recruitment and training of additional regulatory, quarantine and fish inspection personnel beginning July of this year.

“We hold with high degree of importance the advice given by Commissioner Demanaki. We find the advice consistent with our own national priority and reform program of this administration,” the DA said.