THE GOVERNMENT needs to devote more resources to curtail illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) said.
USAID said in a statement Wednesday that it conducted a study with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) which concluded that more government assets are needed to limit the economic losses caused by IUU.
“While the government has invested significant resources in the campaign against illegal fishing, its operational assets have to be augmented to curb the country’s huge economic losses from destructive and unsustainable fishing practices,” USAID said.
The report also noted that compliance with fisheries law and regulations requires a more responsive governance structure, while initiatives to contain IUU fishing need a broader science-based approach.
“IUU fishing ranges from small-scale, unlawful domestic fishing to more complex operations carried out by industrial fishing fleets. It is by nature complex and clandestine, which means data are hard to come by and substantiate,” it said.
The report estimated that IUU fishing in the Philippines accounted for 27% to 40% of the catch, valued at about P62 billion.
“At least 30,000 or 30% of municipal vessels remain unregistered, and commercial fishers do not report up to 422,000 metric tons (MT) of fish each year,” it said.
BFAR National Director Eduardo B. Gongona said the government is currently developing an IUU fishing index and threat assessment tool which will be adopted in fisheries management areas across the country.
“Once fully implemented, this tool will provide us with periodic information needed to identify other ways to encourage voluntary compliance, strategically guide law enforcement operations, and clearly communicate our progress in reducing IUU fishing in the Philippines,” Mr. Gongona said.
“Addressing IUU fishing remains an important Philippine government priority. USAID has worked with BFAR for over three decades to promote sustainable fisheries,” USAID Philippines Mission Director Lawrence Hardy II said.
In 2020, the Philippine Statistics Authority estimated that fish production dropped 0.3% to 4.403 million MT.
Aquaculture accounted for 52.8% or 2.32 million MT, followed by municipal fisheries at 25% or 1.10 million MT, and commercial fisheries at 22.2% or 978,170 MT. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave