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Fisheries Code IRR ready for signing – BFAR

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The implementing rules and regulations of the amended Fisheries Code is now ready for signing, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said.

According to the BFAR, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala is expected to sign the IRR before Sept. 24, the last day of the six-month period set under the law for the promulgation of the IRR.

“After thorough discussions and sharing of opinions, we have come to this day. The IRR has been formulated through multi-sectoral participation and consensus-building approach,” said Asis Perez, BFAR director and Agriculture Undersecretary for fisheries.

The IRR lays down the guidelines on the enforcement of various conservation measures in fisheries.

It covers the specific procedures on the imposition of penalties to fishers who commit illegal, unreported and, unregulated  fishing activities.

“Once the IRR takes effect, the hard work starts. We have always believed in the success of collaborative works. We count on our partners—the private sector, the academe, government agencies, the fisheries sector and the general public—to continuously exert efforts to protect and safeguard our marine and aquatic resources,” he said.

The introduction of amendments to the Fisheries Code of 1998 was initially opposed by operators of commercial fishing vessels claiming the regulations were “oppressive” and could drive them out of business.

Under the amendments, the penalties imposed for violation of fisheries law have been raised to the range of P500,000 to P10 million from P10,000 to P500,000.

Vessel owners could also face imprisonment for violations their vessels are involved in. Before, only the vessel captain, chief engineer and master fisherman could be held liable.

Commercial fishing vessel operators are also against the requirement for fishing vessels to install vessel monitoring system (VMS) devices which may entail expenses of over P240,000 per vessel plus the monthly maintenance subscription fee of over P20,000 per vessel.

This is seen to raise operations cost and ultimately raise fish prices.

The industry and the government eventually agreed to find a middle ground through the crafting of the IRR.

The adoption of an amended Fisheries Code eventually resulted to the revocation in April of the yellow card warning issued by the European Union (EU) to the Philippines for deficiencies in controlling illegal fishing and improving traceability and certification of catch.

As the world’s largest fish importer, the group of European states only allows the entry of fishery products that have been certified as legal by the respective exporting countries.

The Philippines is a major exporter of fisheries products to the EU and is seen to greatly benefit from trade with the European bloc with its inclusion to the Generalized System of Preferences Plus (GSP+) as of December 2014.

The GSP+ scheme allows beneficiary countries to export 6,274 products to any of the 28 members of the EU bloc at zero tariff for a period of 10 years.

Products that can enter the EU duty free access include marine products, coconut products, processed fruit, prepared food, animal and vegetable fats and oils, textiles, garments, headwear, footwear, furniture, umbrellas, and chemicals.

 

 

 

ACIRC AGRICULTURE SECRETARY PROCESO ALCALA AGRICULTURE UNDERSECRETARY ASIS PEREZ BUREAU OF FISHERIES AND AQUATIC RESOURCES EUROPEAN UNION FISHERIES FISHERIES CODE GENERALIZED SYSTEM OF PREFERENCES PLUS IRR PRODUCTS
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