This program focuses on the promotion of strict enforcement of fishery laws and regulations, and the intensification of coastal resource management activities to properly utilize aquatic resources in the coastal and other marine areas of the country. This program also hopes to address issues on environmental and resource degradation with an overarching goal of food security in fisheries.
Monitoring, Control and Surveillance
There are various factors that hinder the country’s goal in achieving food security and resource sustainability in the fisheries sector. Destabilized efforts to achieve food security brought by illegal fishing activities such as the use of dynamite, cyanide, poaching/intrusions of foreign vessels and other actions that cause destruction and degradation of our aquatic resources. As a response, BFAR will continuously implement the Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) system which aims to sustain and protect the country’s fisheries and aquatic resources against illegal activities. In FY2023, seventeen (17) MCS stations and ten (10) multi-mission vessels and eighty-eight (88) MCS and patrol vessels are expected to be maintained by the Bureau.
The MCS system has 3 components, to wit: data collection (monitoring), legislation (through licensing and control), and enforcement (surveillance).
The specific activities under the program include: enforcement of fishery laws through coordination with other government enforcement agencies, mandated by Republic Act No. 8550, as amended by RA 10654; Jurisdiction of the Local Government Units in municipal waters in the enforcement of fishery laws is emphasized as this is an activity identified in the Mandanas-Garcia Ruling as devolved function in consideration of the RA 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991. Training of fish examiners and law enforcement officers shall be a specific collaborative activity with LGU wherein BFAR is a technical expert to act as resource person on this undertaking; coordination with LGUs under the “Bantay Dagat” program; and filing of cases and testifying as government witness in the prosecution of illegal fishing cases.
Combating Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing
Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing has been one of the greatest challenges by the government in maintaining and protecting the country’s fisheries and aquatic resources. The Food and Agriculture Organization Council proposed the International Plan of Action (IPOA) as a solution to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU Fishing. United Nations Member States are encouraged to adopt the National Plans of Action (NPOA) to address IUUF.
IUUF should be addressed in the NPOA through these measures: (a) All State Responsibilities (e.g. ratification of relevant norms of international law such as the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, 1993 FAO Compliance Agreement and 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement and enactment of national legislation focusing on all aspects of IUUF; (b) Flag State Responsibilities (e.g. prevention of flag-hopping and re-flagging aimed at non-compliance with conservation and management measures, among others); (c) coastal State Responsibilities (e.g. prevention of IUUF in the Exclusive Economic Zone and regulation of fishing access to avoid IUUF); (d) Port State Measures (e.g. control of port access by fishing vessels to prevent IUUF); (e) Research (e.g. research on methods of identifying fish species from samples of processed products); and (f) Internationally-Agreed Market Related measures (e.g. catch documentation scheme or certification requirements).
In FY 2023, 1,379 land-based and 1,998 sea-based operations with a total of 3,377 field operations related to fishery law enforcement are scheduled to be conducted to ensure the security of Philippine waters and aquatic resources through monitoring, surveillance, law implementation and others.
Quality Control and Inspection
Fish Health Management Laboratories
Based on statistics and data, one of the significant contributors in fisheries production is the intensified aquaculture. However, it entails pollution-related problems. The current state of fish and other aquatic resources was compromised by a polluted environment, which leads to disease outbreaks, increase in mortality and decreasing yield. As a response, the Bureau will continue to support the implementation of national fish health management and monitoring programs to catalyze growth in aquaculture production. The activities include:
For FY 2023, 8,786 monitoring of Harmful Algal Bloom are expected to take place and nine (9) laboratories will be maintained by the Bureau.
Fish Quality Assurance Program
This program aims to ensure all fish-related products meet the standards for consumer nutrition and safety. This was supported by the implementation of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP), which requires processing establishments and post-harvest facilities to comply with the sanitary and phytosanitary standards to ensure the acceptable quality of the country’s exported fish products. Under this program, the Bureau will still be conducting the following activities:
A total of 2,343 fishery facilities and aquaculture farms will be monitored to ensure the efficiency of compliance to national, if not international standards. A total of 6,570 fishery products will be monitored to ensure the quality of fish in our country, regardless if it will be consumed locally or internationally. In addition, 31,417 disease sampling, detection and analyses will also be conducted in support of our fish quality assurance program.
Quarantine, Registration and Licensing
Under this component, the Bureau regularly issues permits, licenses and accreditations to fisheries entities. For FY2023, a total of 301,404 permits, clearances, certifications, licenses and accreditations are targeted to be issued to commercial fishing vessels and gears (CFVGs), FLA covered areas, and other fisheries entities. The Bureau continuously conducts inspections on CFVGs, FLAs and other fisheries entities.