Sustainable fisheries summit ends today

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The strong implementation of a new fisheries law can finally restore the productivity of Philippine seas.

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To highlight and celebrate the amended Philippine Fisheries Code (Republic Act 10654), fisheries champions opened the Sustainable Fisheries Summit on Monday. Happening at the Walter Hogan Conference Center of the Institute of Social Order at the Ateneo de Manila University, it is set to conclude today.

Organized by the ECOFISH Project, Greenpeace Philippines, Haribon, Institute of Social Order, NGOs for Fisheries Reform,Oceana Philippines, PAKISAMA, PANGISDA, PKSK National Union of Rural Based Organizations, Tambuyog Development Center and WWF, the summit shall enhance awareness among fisherfolk organizations plus public and private stakeholders about the amendments in the code.

Passed on February 27, RA 10654 amends the nation’s 17-year-old fisheries code by seeking to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. The new law allows the country’s fisheries code to be aligned with international commitments, imposes higher fines for violations and highlights the need for better fish catch traceability systems. It also establishes a framework for improved fisheries governance that sets fish yield limits through harvest control rules, while requiring vessel monitoring measures to track and monitor the behavior of fishing vessels.

“This is an important milestone for all municipal fishers and marine conservationists, as well as fisheries NGOs that have been working for decades to ensure our fish resources are used wisely for long-term food security and ensure the economic prosperity of coastal communities. We laud the BFAR for being inclusive in pushing the passage of the law. Now is the time to inform and raise awareness among our small-scale fishers and to ensure that RA 10654 will be strongly enforced—especially in remote areas which host the greatest concentrations of fish,” expressed the summit’s organizers in a statement. “Through proper implementation, we can revive our seas and improve the lives of millions of fisherfolk.”

On September 22, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala signed the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the amended fisheries code. The IRR is expected to take effect this month.

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