ILLEGAL and destructive fishing practices are causing the Philippines’ fisheries sector to lose about P5.07 trillion in potential earnings annually, according to Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol.
At a fisheries conference in Manila on Monday, Piñol claimed that P4.9 trillion was being lost to blast fishing, P6.1 billion to poaching and P9.4 billion to overfishing every year.
“The destruction of marine ecosystems resulting from IUU (illegal, unreported and unregulated) fishing undermine the ecological services they provide, which include goods, such as fish harvests,” he said.
“This would spell disaster for the 82-million Filipinos who rely on fish as their main source of protein,” the agriculture chief added.
The Philippines is a global center of marine biodiversity and boasts one of the longest coastlines in the world, according to 2018 State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture report of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which names the country as a top fish producer.
But local fisheries production have been decreasing in the last few years, which was blamed on IUU fishing, lack of postharvest facilities and reduced fishing trips.
To address this, Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) held dialogues on combatting IUU fishing and promote sustainable fishing.
The conference was organized by the Philippine Committee (PhilCom) against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing, which was created in pursuit of Executive Order 154, series of 2013 and led by Piñol.
The committee is tasked to address IUU fishing using a whole-of-government approach, primarily by ensuring the implementation of the First Philippine National Plan of Action to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing.
According to Piñol, his department has done much to fight IUU fishing while addressing the country’s food security.
“We have directed the DA’s effort toward food production rooted on environmental protection and ecological balance. We pursued a carrot-and-stick approach in that while we intensified our campaign against IUU fishing,” said Piñol.