PH gets EU’s nod on efforts to curb IUU fishing

From the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Department of Agriculture

The European Commission has removed the Philippines from the list of countries challenged with the implementation of measures to address illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

In a statement released by the Commission on its website yesterday, “Today, the European Commission has revoked the warning yellow card issued to the Philippines in June 2014 regarding measures to fight illegal fishing. The EU acknowledges Philippines’ efforts to partner up with us in fighting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.”

On June 10 last year, the EU issued the “yellow card” formal notice to the Philippines and advised the country to fulfill its commitment in deterring and preventing IUU fishing (IUUF) to avoid the possibility of being identified as a non-cooperating country in the international fight against IUUF.

The Philippine government through the Department of Agriculture welcomes the latest EU’s decision as formal recognition of the Aquino Administration’s commitment to put an end to unsustainable fishing practices which compromise not only the country’s marine resources but also the long-term livelihood of around 1.8 million fishery stakeholders.

“The Department is pleased with this development as it formally recognizes the government’s serious efforts to prevent and eliminate all forms of fisheries resource abuse,” said Secretary of Agriculture Proceso J. Alcala.

Alcala emphasized, however, that the government’s initiatives to curb IUU fishing are aligned with international agreements, regional obligations and global market requirements.

“The country’s effort against IUUF is anchored on its commitment as member of the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (UN-FAO), which adopted the International Plan of Action (IPOA) to prevent, deter and eliminate IUUF. In line with this commitment, after a series of consultation with stakeholders, the Philippines formally adopted a National Plan of Action (NPOA) through Executive Order No. 154 which was signed by President Benigno Aquino III in 2013,” he said.

As the Philippines joins the ranks of cooperating countries in the global fight against IUU fishing, the government expects more flourishing trade relations with the EU that would eventually benefit the whole fishery sector, Alcala added.

The Philippines exports more than P 8 billion worth of fish products to the EU annually.

Notable Fisheries Governance Reforms

The European Union lauded the significant progress the Philippines made in its policy and structural reforms, most notably the passing of Republic Act (RA) 10654, which amended the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, otherwise known as RA 8550, on February 27, 2015.

The provisions of the amended fisheries code added IUU fishing as an offense and increased the sanctions and penalties for violations.

“The Philippines has taken responsible action, amended its legal systems and switched to proactive approach against illegal fishing,” European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella said in the statement.

Aside from having an amended fisheries code with a deterrent scheme of sanctions, the EU cited the Philippines in the statement for “the improvement of the traceability and catch certification schemes, reinforced cooperation with Papua New Guinea for inspection and control and coverage of the activities of the long distant fleet operating beyond Philippine waters.”

Alcala acknowledges Sen. Cynthia Villar, Chairperson of the Senate Agriculture and Food Committee Chairperson and Cong. Benhur Salimbangon, Chairperson of Aquaculture and Fisheries Committee in the House of Representatives, for their decisive efforts in shepherding the passage of RA 10654 in the Senate and Congress.

He also congratulated the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) for taking proactive moves in pushing for the fishery reforms.

The DA also recognizes the active involvement of the Philippine Committee against IUU fishing composed of the Office of the President, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Finance, Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of National Defense, and Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and their respective offices and attached agencies, as well as the concerned economic zone authorities and the private sector in improving the country’s policies and measures on IUUF.

In less than a year since the EU issued “yellow card” to the Philippines, the various government actions have made the country the fastest compared to other countries in fulfilling commitments in the global effort to curb IUU fishing.



Statement of President Aquino on EU’s lifting of its yellow-card warning against PH