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Cebu News

Groups gather to push for sustainable fisheries

The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Various fishery stakeholders gathered recently to further boost multi-sectoral cooperation towards sustainable fisheries.

The Philippine Committee against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IUUF) conducted the first ever National Summit on Participatory Governance Towards Sustainable Fisheries at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City.

Present were fisherfolk and industry players, civil society, local government units, national government agencies and key officials, members of the academe, and media practitioners from all over the country.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala stressed the importance of promoting and protecting marine biodiversity through eliminating IUUF methods.

“That is why we are all here fulfilling our commitment to the sector and working hard to ensure that generation today and beyond will enjoy the abundance of our marine resources,” he said, encouraging other PhilCom members to continue building partnerships in developing more policy reforms.

He said an inclusive growth on fisheries will be achieved if concerned sectors are one with their goal of boosting sustainable use of resources.

He also called for unity of actions to save the country’s marine and aquatic resources.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, for its part, has already put in place measures and policy reforms seeking to address challenges and impact of IUU fishing.

For one, the promulgation of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 10654, which amended RA 8550 or the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998.

DA Undersecretary for Fisheries and the BFAR national director Asis Perez said BFAR will be launching a wide-scale information campaign on the amended fisheries code “to educate the general public and prevent stakeholders from breaking the law.”

Moreover, the summit highlighted the premiere of Isang Bangka: Ulat-Dokumentaryo Ukol Sa Balikatang Pangangasiwa Tungo sa mas Masaganang Pangisdaan, a 25-minute documentary, which followed the programs and joint undertakings by various government agencies in preventing and eliminating IUU fishing in Philippine waters.

Perez further said Isang Bangka “features initiatives by the LGUs and the fishery stakeholders , which is an example of an effective collaborative framework.”

Support

LGUs, fisherfolk organizations and non-government organizations are supporting the implementation of Republic Act 10654, stressing the need to address decades of over-extraction, over-exploitation, and rampant IUU fishing.

“If fully implemented, we believe RA 10654, our newly amended Fisheries Code, will move the Philippines towards a sustainable path. If we are to conserve the bounty of our oceans, provision of the law that include deterrent penalties, vessels monitoring sytem, harvest control rues, and storing traceability measures are steps in the right direction,” reads a joint stakeholders declaration.

The declaration was signed by Oceana, Greenpeace, USAID, Pangisda and Pakisama, a national confederation of small farmers and fisheries organizations, among others.

The groups said they welcome the amendments to the 17-year-old Fisheries Code, particularly the introduction of stronger measures for conservation and monitoring that “provide the information of what is happening in our seas that will turn around this critical decline in our fisheries health.”

“The amendments are a step forward, let us not derail our gains with politics and accommodating parochial interests,” they said. They said, though, that the full implementation of the law may not be realized if some needed changes are unmet.

The groups laid down steps that they believe are vital in the success of the amendatory law, such as empowerment of coastal communities and Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (FARMCs) to be fully functional; ensure collaboration, coordination and networking between agencies, government units and among fishing communities and harmonize policies and programs; providing strong technical support from BFAR for all stakeholders and LGUs to ensure that local personnel have the skills and technical capacity to implement the law. — Kristine B. Quintas/JMO (FREEMAN)

ACIRC AGRICULTURE SECRETARY PROCESO ALCALA ASIS PEREZ BUREAU OF FISHERIES AND AQUATIC RESOURCES FISHERIES FISHERIES AND AQUATIC RESOURCES MANAGEMENT COUNCIL FISHERIES CODE IMPLEMENTING RULES AND REGULATIONS OF REPUBLIC ACT ISANG BANGKA KRISTINE B MASAGANANG PANGISDAAN
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