By Alexis Romero
The government has adopted a national action plan seeking to prevent and eliminate illegal fishing in Philippine waters amid recent high-profile poaching incidents by foreign vessels.
The plan is contained in Executive Order 154 signed by President Aquino last Dec. 6 and published in a national daily yesterday.
In the order, Aquino said illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing undermines efforts to manage fisheries in a sustainable manner and threatens food and livelihood security of coastal communities.
“There is a need to address the ecological, biological and socio-economic challenges posed by IUU fishing in a coordinated and integrated manner through a collaborative institutional mechanism involving the concerned departments and agencies of the government,” the order read.
Aquino also cited the need for the Philippines to implement the action plan as a member of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.
One of the key items in the action plan is its aim to introduce IUU fishing in the high seas and in coastal waters of other states as a new statutory offense.
Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1 “Poaching shall remain a criminal offense and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” the order read.
The drive against poaching will be strengthened by allowing the Department of Agriculture to automatically confiscate the foreign fishing vessel, its paraphernalia and equipment and fishing gear and to compound the offense until the administrative fine is fully settled.
The move was meant to boost the administrative remedy against poaching.
Also in the action plan is a policy on states that do not cooperate in the efforts to curb illegal fishing.
“The Philippines will implement actions taken by RFMOs (Regional Fisheries Management Organizations) of which it is a member or a cooperating non-party against any non-cooperating state which engages in or supports IUU fishing,” it read. More....