THE Philippines has begun implementing sustainable fishing reforms with Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) as a partner providing critical support on science and policy, saying that it would establish these reforms for its major commercial fisheries by 2022.
“Healthy fisheries are critical to the well-being of all Filipinos, and we are committed to making fishing sustainable nationwide,” Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Director Eduardo Gongona said.
The Philippines is a top fishing nation in the Asia-Pacific region and boasts the highest marine diversity on the planet. Seafood is critical to the country’s food security. Millions of Filipinos depend on fishing for their livelihood, and 90 percent of the fish caught in the Philippines stays here, making up more than half of the animal protein consumed by the population.
“We applaud the Philippines for this extraordinary commitment,” John Mimikakis, vice president for Asia with EDF’s Oceans program, said. “EDF is proud to be partnering with the Philippine fisheries bureau to set an example for the region and the rest of the world for how to build policies that can improve food security and provide economic development, while at the same time recovering fisheries.”
Today, more than 800 million people around the world face direct health risks from declining fish populations. New research shows that if nothing is done, 80 percent of the world’s fisheries will be in need of reform in less than 15 years.
Overfishing is pervasive in the Philippines, where 70 percent of fish stocks for which there are data are considered overfished.
As part of the new fisheries law aimed at combating this problem, BFAR has committed to building science-based policies and is partnering with EDF to develop new scientific processes, provide training, and test new technologies.
Through the partnership, EDF will continue to provide science support sharing tools it has developed with BFAR as it develops reforms for the country’s major commercial fisheries. Managers in the Philippines plan to use some of the low-cost methods, developed by EDF’s Fishery Solutions Center, to assess the health of fish populations with the goal of managing fishing effort and catch to allow stocks to rebuild.
“Data, science, participation, and transparency are the foundation for good policy,” Jose Ingles, an advisor to EDF in the Philippines, said. “Together, we have an opportunity to build a roadmap for other nations to emulate on how to implement sustainable, science-based, and inclusive policy reforms for their fisheries.”
“We view EDF as a critical partner to making fishing sustainable in the Philippines,” Gongona said. “By building our policy reforms on science and investing in reliable enforcement, we can ensure healthy fisheries for the future.”