Philippines to develop 3-year seahorse program

Danessa Rivera - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is developing a three-year seahorse program to manage and sustain seahorse trade.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) is working with Project Seahorse, a marine conservation organization, to develop a memorandum of agreement (MOA) for the three-year Philippine Seahorse Program.

Both parties will also conduct non-detriment findings (NDFs) in Bohol as a pilot site using Napoleon wrasse NDF framework as a reference.

An NDF is a comprehensive scientific study that evaluates if a trade would adversely impact the survival of a particular species. It also assesses if a trade could allow species population to be sustained throughout its range at a level “consistent with its role in the ecosystems in which it occurs.”

The National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (NFRDI) will also provide scientific advice and technical assistance on the program.

The MOA was seen as a way forward for the Philippines to manage seahorse trade.

Last month, the Philippines hosted the four-day Asia region workshop on implementing the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) for seahorses.

CITES is an international agreement between governments that aims to ensure that trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten the species’ survival.

The Conference of the Parties to CITES (CoP) is the decision-making body of the Convention, made up of all member states.

Participants were representatives of CITES and fisheries authorities from 10 member countries with significant historical roles as importers and exporters, including India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam as exporters; China, including Hong Kong SAR and Taiwan, Province of China, and Singapore as importers.

During the workshop, NFRDI training division chief Mudjekeewis Santos and National Stock Assessment Program (NSAP) co-project coordinator Francisco SB. Torres, Jr. pushed for the development of a country document in the form of a presentation that serves as a situational analysis containing proposals for action to ensure seahorse export is legal in the Philippines and that does not damage wild populations. 

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