BFAR, UN-FAO join hands vs IUU fishing

August 15, 2022 Cory Martinez 102 views

TO help the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in the implementation of the Port State Measures (PSMA) to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing and fishing-related activities, the delegates of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UN-FAO) are now conducting series of consultations with BFAR and other national government agencies.

The consultations, which started yesterday and will end tomorrow, include discussions on the implementation of PSMA, fisheries and maritime surveillance and enforcement, and the policy and legal framework for the PSMA implementation.

The UN-FAO delegates are composed of Teresa Amador, Kim Stobber up, and Peter Southen.

In April 2019, the BFAR, with the support of the FAO and the Republic of Korea, conducted a gap assessment workshop to identify the Philippines’ capacity to implement the 2009 FAO PSMA to prevent, deter, and eliminate IUU fishing which resulted in a national strategy and roadmap.

The 2009 PSMA is the first binding international agreement that specifically targets cases of IUU fishing. Its objective is to prevent, deter, and eliminate IUU fishing on a global scale by prohibiting vessels engaged in such activities from using ports and landing their catches.

Meanwhile, in 2020, the BFAR prepared a work plan to strengthen the Philippine’s capacity to combat IUU fishing after identifying the gaps in the country’s policy, legal, and institutional frameworks on MCS and enforcement capabilities during the assessment workshop conducted. However, the implementation of the said work plan was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To estimate the country’s overall IUU fishing risk exposure, the BFAR conducted assessments from 2020 to 2021 in 160 cities and municipalities in nine of the 12 Philippine fishing management areas (FMAs).

Results of which are indicated in the 2021 Philippine IUU Fishing Assessment Report.

The assessment report, which utilizes the IUU Fishing Index and Threat Assessment (I-FIT) Tool developed by BFAR and USAID Fish Right, showed that the country has an overall moderate risk with the following scores in IUU fishing index, vulnerability, prevalence, and response: 2.58, 2.51, 2.53, and 2.76.

Moreover, IUU fishing is observed to be decreasing as nearly half of the 160 surveyed LGUs (local government units) rated as having fairly strong enforcement teams, while 52 percent of the LGUs are said to be on a downward trend in the reported magnitude of IUU fishing from 2020 to 2021.

“Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing remains a primary challenge faced by our fisheries sector. That is why the Philippine government, through the DA-BFAR, takes this mission as an opportunity to optimize our policies and regulations in order to more effectively address this challenge that threatens the sustainability of our resources supporting our vibrant economy and fisheries industry,” BFAR Director Nestor Domenden said.

The national agencies which will engage in the consultations are the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority (PFDA), Bureau of Customs (BOC), Bureau of Immigration (BI), Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ), Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), National Coast Watch Council, DOJ-National Prosecution Service, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Center on Transnational Crime, Philippine National Police-Maritime Group, and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA).

The delegates, meanwhile, will conduct an ocular visit at the National Coast Watch Centre in Manila and at BFAR’s Fisheries Monitoring Center or the Integrated Marine Environment Monitoring System project center on Aug. 19.

The mission will conclude in General Santos City, wherein delegates will visit the General Santos Fish Port Complex, Igloo Cold Storage, PhilBest Canning Corporation, and the BFAR Region 12 satellite office and meet with BFAR and PFDA officials from Aug. 22 to 23.