Oceana applauds BFAR for first fishing license revocation

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has permanently revoked a license of a fishing vessel found to have repeatedly violated the provision of the Philippine Fisheries Code which bans commercial fishing in municipal waters.

The action was applauded by Oceana because it is considered as a historic first for the government agency.

“We welcome this breakthrough in the implementation of the law,” said Atty Gloria Estenzo Ramos, vice-president of Oceana.   

“The permanent revocation serves as an effective deterrence on illegal commercial fishing happening in municipal waters. Strong measures in transparency and enforcement are needed if we are to return the abundance of our waters,” Estenzo Ramos stressed.

Oceana formally requested on December 9, 2019 the BFAR’s Adjudication Committee for the list and status of commercial fishing vessels and owners/operators with repeated violations of the Fisheries Administrative Order 198-1.

It received a response from the committee secretariat last January 7, 2020 which cited the “administrative sanction imposed by the Adjudication Committee in in one case in Region VI where the committee decided to PERMANENTLY REVOKE the Commercial Fishing Vessel License (CFVL) bearing No. GRNG-06701-07-17…to FV RAIZZA.”

Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos, Vice-President of Oceana. File photo from the August 2019 post-simulation exercise in Iloilo City wherein she is being interviewed by a reporter of TV network ABS-CBN.

“We urge the BFAR to hasten the implementation of the vessel monitoring measures to deter the intrusion of commercial fishing vessel operators into the municipal waters. We have to stop illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing to restore the deteriorating fisheries and marine resources, especially in the municipal waters,” explained Ramos.

Oceana, in partnership with the League of Municipalities of the Philippines, formed the Karagatan Patrol platform that encourages online reporting of illegal fishing from enforcement agencies and citizens.

Karagatan Patrol’s monitoring of infrared satellite finds continuous presence of superlights supposedly coming from commercial fishing vessels in municipal waters all over the country.

“However, only the implementation of vessel monitoring system will verify the reported violation and we are happy that some responsible commercial fishing vessel operators support the implementation of the monitoring, control and surveillance provisions of the Fisheries Code,” added Ramos.

The vessel monitoring mechanism has gained the support of Subic Commercial Fishing Association Incorporated (SCOFAI) as expressed by Fausto Alpay during the public consultation of BFAR for Luzon. 

“We fully support the requirement of Vessel Monitoring Measures, required by the amended Fisheries Code of the Philippines, as a means to monitor fishing activities and ensure that all commercial fishing vessels comply with the law banning commercial fishing in municipal waters,’ Alpay declared.

“This can also help ensure the safety of our fisherfolk in cases of emergency,” underscored Alpay and “our organization is also calling on our government to protect our rights as we go beyond municipal waters and face poachers in the West Philippine Sea who are preventing us from fishing in what is rightfully our territorial waters.”

Oceana also lauded Alpay and SCOFAI for expressing their  full support to full compliance of the law, vessel monitoring requirement being an important component of the Philippine Fisheries Code, as amended.

Oceana is an international advocacy organization dedicated to protecting the world’s oceans. Since 2014, Oceana has been working closely with national and local government agencies and stakeholders to restore the abundance of Philippine fisheries and marine resources.

*Photo credit: The featured photo is not the subject of the license revocation case. The photo was taken during a simulation exercise organized by Oceana in Iloilo in August 2019. It is used only as a support illustration photo for this article.

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