Phl gets continued access to high seas tuna fishing ground
(The Philippine Star) - December 15, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines has been granted extended fishing access to tuna-rich high seas pocket 1 of the Pacific Ocean until 2017 by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), the Bureau of Fisheries and aquatic Resources announced recently.

BFAR assistant director Benjamin Tabios said the three year extension, which becomes effective on March 1, 2014, follows the access granted to the Philippines from  March 2013 to Feb. 28, 2014.

The Philippines was granted the extended access because of satisfactory conservation measures implemented on migratory fish stocks such as tuna.

“The Philippines is willing to comply with the difficult conservation measures required by the commission,” he said.

The Philippines would be allowed to operate 36 catcher vessels with a capacity not exceeding 250 metric tons  in the high seas pocket for the duration of the extended access.

The WCPFC granted the extension during the five-day convention in Cairns, Australia that started last Dec. 2.

BFAR director Asis Perez said the continued fishing access is a result of the Philippines’ commitment to ensuring long-term sustainability of highly migratory fish stocks parallel with rights under the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention, UN Fish Stocks Agreement and the WCPFC Convention. 

For two years now, the Philippines is the only nation allowed to go fishing in the high seas pocket 1 following a series of proposals set before the WCPFC.

The high seas pocket 1 was opened two years ago following a two-year fishing ban in all four pockets due to declining tuna catch. 

The grant of the extension was met with enthusiasm by the private sector who sent their fishing vessels to the high seas pocket 1 as part of the Philippine fleet.

“We are very happy with this development. It is definitely very good because, in a way, the high seas pocket became an exclusive fishing ground for us,” said Augusto Natividad of Frabelle Fishing Corp.

Perez said the grant of the extension is both a challenge and an opportunity to encourage the sector to continuously practice responsible fishing such as long line fishing, citing some 2,000 metric tons quota left unused for long line fishing.

On Oct. 24, 2013, the Philippines sent  an initial  21 fishing vessels to the high seas pocket 1.

Perez said the Philippines targets to meet the allowable number of vessels in the high seas pocket by the end of the year.

Perez eyes a total of 36 catcher-vessels to sail for the said fishing ground before the year ends.

ASIS PEREZ AUGUSTO NATIVIDAD OF FRABELLE FISHING CORP BENJAMIN TABIOS BUREAU OF FISHERIES FISH STOCKS AGREEMENT FISHING HIGH PEREZ PHILIPPINES POCKET SEAS
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