National fisheries stakeholders summit held to combat illegal fishing

Press release - October 20, 2015
Manila–The national summit seeks to discuss and discern the salient points in the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the recently amended Fisheries Code or Republic Act 10654, which sets stiffer penalties and tightens rules against illegal and unregulated fishing.

The two-day Sustainable Fisheries Summit was attended by more than 100 participants from the academe, scientific community, local government units, fisherfolk, and non-government organizations from all over the Philippines. It is the first presentation of the approved IRR and amended Fisheries code to key fisherfolk and community stakeholders, held at the Institute of Social Order in the Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City.

The summit sought to strengthen the fisheries network for sustainable fisheries management, and emphasized the need for key fisheries stakeholders to understand RA 10654 to effectively enforce the law and monitor its implementation.

It also underscored the need to allow the recovery of the Philippine seas  from decades of degradation and overfishing – as the majority of Filipinos are dependent on the sea as a critical source of food and livelihood.

For the longest time, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUUF) wreaked havoc on the once-abundant fishing grounds of the Philippines. A report made by the National Stock Assessment Program of the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) revealed that 10 out of 13 fishing grounds are already heavily exploited, leading to the phenomenal decline of fish catch. Simultaneously, the income of municipal fishers also declined, with the highest poverty incidence level among fisherfolk at 39.1 percent.

Municipal fishers have long clamored for the amendment of the Fisheries Code, in response to the prevailing illegal and unregulated fishing practices to the Philippine seas.

The passage of RA 10654 aims to address IUUF by increasing the penalties against illegal and unregulated fishing. It also strengthens the vessel monitoring mechanisms and calls for the creation of harvest control rules to determine sustainable fish catch levels.

RA 10654 revised significant provisions leading to institutionalization and further strengthening of the following: (1) traceability, which ensures that fishery products are sourced out from healthy fishing grounds and which used sustainable fishing practices, and handling of fish catch meet acceptable standards; (2) reference points, which determines the maximum sustainable yield for fishing; and (3) harvest control rules, which sets the regulations on the use of fishing gears, fish catch limitations, spatial and temporal restrictions, among others.

These provisions shall primarily lead to establishment of a sustainable fisheries regime beyond the 15-kilometer municipal waters, the exclusive economic zones and in high seas.

The summit also launched PaNaGaT (Pangisda Natin Gawing Tama), the largest Philippine network of conservationist and Community-Based Coastal Resources Management (CB-CRM) practitioners, to combat IUUF. 

Note:

Download the Katipunan Declaration on Sustainable Fisheries

Contact persons:

Mr. Vince Cinches, Greenpeace
0917-536-3754

Mr. Dennis Calvan, NGOs for Fisheries Reform (NFR)
0917-899-5658

Atty. Rocky Guzman, Oceana
0917-659-5634

Ms. Joanne Binondo, WWF
0915-319-7136

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