PH intensifies fight vs illegal fishing

The Philippines intensified its fight against illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUUF) by implementing the mandatory installation of vessel monitoring measures (VMM) and an electronic reporting system (ERS) to all fishing vessels.

Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar released Fisheries Administrative Order 266 last October 12 that expanded FAO 260 of 2018, which only covered commercial vessels catching straddling and highly migratory fish stocks.

The VMM is used to “track and monitor the position, course, and speed of fishing vessels at any given time for the purpose of management of fisheries and fishing effort and traceability,” the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said.

Civil-society groups like Oceana, , and local governments praised the move of DA and BFAR to fight illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. They said the regulation is timely and a significant measure to secure the country’s food security.

The groups added the order would allow fisheries and other marine resources to recover from long years of abuse and overexploitation.

BFAR said the VMM against illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing resulted from the National Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council’s (NFARMC) deliberation and public consultations.

PH intensifies fight vs illegal fishing

“The system will use an Automatic Location Communicator [ALC], or a tracking device equipped with a distress alert button, which, when activated, will automatically locate the vessel and alert authorities during accidents, or other emergencies, ensuring safety of fishers at sea,” BFAR said.

The new FAO would require a vessel to install fully operational tracking devices before registering or renewing their license, the BFAR said.

“Aside from this, an Electronic Reporting System will be used to record and transmit catch data, including species and volume of fish caught, position of the vessel where the fish are caught, vessel activity, and port of origin and arrival in real-time,” it said.

“The system will improve the country’s catch documentation and seafood traceability,” it added.

BFAR added that the ERS and VMS would also be used in scientific research and fisheries management.

“Based on the new FAO, vessels weighing 3.1 to less than 30 GT must have a DA-BFAR- approved VMS installed within one year from the effectivity of the FAO,” it said.

“For vessels weighing 30 GT or more, VMS must be installed immediately as required by FAO 260,” it added.