PH making headway against illegal fishing

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The Philippines is making significant headway in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUUF) as it starts the implementation of a more stringent fisheries code, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resource said on Friday.

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Atty. Asis Perez, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resource (BFAR) national director, said that starting this week, the agency will enact Republic Act No. 10654, “the law that prevents, deters and eliminates IUUF,” to ensure sustainable use of the country’s marine and fishery wealth.

The new legislation, which amends RA 8550 or the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, was passed into law in February this year.

“The government is putting in place changes that are necessary to help the fisheries sector move forward,” Perez said in a media briefing.

“The law is re-echoing our goal to eradicate all forms of unsustainable resource use as these compromise not only the environment but also the long-term livelihood and employment of around 1.8 million fisheries stakeholders,” he said.

“Both the government and the stakeholders agreed to participate in the drafting of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Fisheries Code,” he said.

The IRR Drafting Committee will be composed of 18 representatives from the fisheries sector, nine from the government sector, two from the academe, and two from non-governmental organizations.

Among the issues that will be addressed in the IRR are the imposition of stiffer fines and penalties for serious violations and the mandatory installation of vessel monitoring system (VMS) on all domestic fishing vessels.

Manila has been working to further strengthen programs against IUUF after European Commission threatened to blacklist fisheries and aquatic products from the Philippines if it continues to act against destructive fishing practices.

IUUF depletes fish stocks, destroys marine habitats, distorts competition, puts honest fishers at an unfair disadvantage, and weakens costal communities, particularly in developing countries.

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