As part of the government’s effort to curb illegal fishing, the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) has commenced with the construction of two new units of steel hulled offshore vessels that will boost its presence at sea.
In a launching program in Navotas City, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and National Coast Watch Center (NCWC) Undersecretary Jose Luis Alano along with other government officials led the ceremonial laying of keels for two units of 50.5-meter multi-mission vessels, which will soon be part of DA-BFAR’s inventory of floating assets intended to guard Philippine waters against illicit fishing practices.
“This momentous event indicates government’s serious commitment for inclusive growth and poverty alleviation in all sectors, particularly agriculture and fisheries sectors, as we further intensify the country’s stance against illegal, unreported, and unregulated [IUU] fishing,” said Alcala.
The multi-mission vessels, which will stretch half a meter larger than an Olympic-size swimming pool, are the first ever of their kind to be constructed in the Philippines.
The vessel as designed by Incat Crowther, a reputable ship designer based in the United States.
All plans, drawings, and calculations, meanwhile, are in accordance with the rules of the internationally acclaimed Bureau Veritas Classification Society known for its expertise in Testing, Inspection and Certification. The vessel construction is made possible through the collaborative efforts of the Maritime Industry Authority, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine Navy and DA-BFAR.
Each vessel costs around P178.5 Million and will be built within 18 months at Josefa Slipway Inc., a medium category local shipyard in Navotas City.
The project commences almost a year after the enactment of the amendments to the Philippine Fisheries Code, which mandates an integrated approach on fisheries management comprised of a Monitoring, Control, and Surveillance (MCS) Program to curb and deter IUU fishing practices.
Aside from fighting destructive forms of fishing, the vessels will also be utilized for other purposes such as seaborne research activities and calamity response.
With the construction of the said assets, the Philippines as a member country of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission can now also fulfill its commitment to conduct MCS activities in distant waters such as the High Seas Pocket Number 1, a tuna rich fishing ground, as well as augment its existing capacity to operate at the West Philippine Sea and other non-traditional fishing grounds.