DA bids for continued access to Pacific fishing grounds

A skipjack purse seine fishery operation underway on the deck of the Philippine fish carrier/supply boat 'Gene-2' in the international waters of high seas pocket No1. Purse seiners use fish aggregation devices, or FADs, to set net around, which are a highly destructive method of fishing that Greenpeace are seeking to be banned at the forthcoming Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) meeting due to be held in Manila, Philippines from 02-06 December 2012.

DEPARTMENT of Agriculture (DA) on Sunday vowed to further advance the performance of local fishermen by continuing their vessels’ access to the Pacific high seas.

“We’ll negotiate for Philippine vessels’ continuing access to Pacific high seas pocket 1 area,” Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Director Eduardo Gongona said in a press conference.

Gongona added that the Philippines is also seeking Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission’s (WCPFC) approval of the application of BFAR’s Fisheries Administrative Order 236 which covers operation of purse seine and ring net vessels using fish aggregating devices.

“Continuing both measures will help bring forth more fisheries production and livelihood,” Gongona said.

Meanwhile, Piñol said the Philippines remains one of the top fishing countries in the world during the WCPFC’s 14th regular session in Manila

Piñol said the fishing industry accounted for 1.5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2015.

In a bid to improve the fisheries industry’s contribution to the overall agriculture industry, the Philippines will negotiate with WCPFC to continue the implementation of two measures aimed at helping fisheries production and livelihood in the country.

Meanwhile, DA Secretary Manny Piñol said tuna remains a top Philippine export commodity with a collective volume of almost 105,000 metric tons covering various fishery products valued at about $300 million.

“Fishery resources of western and central Pacific Ocean are relatively abundant and returns on investments are high with fishery estimated to be worth approximately $5 billion annually,” said WCPFC.

WCPFC is a regional fisheries management organization governing fishing activities — particularly those for tuna — in international waters or areas that don’t belong to any country.

“The commission passes conservation and management measures aimed at curbing illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing,” BFAR information chief Nazario Briguera explained.

WCPFC is focusing on effective management and conservation measures in the Pacific, where several countries fish commercially, to prevent overexploitation and eventual depletion of species there.

Several challenges confront the bid to achieve a long-term conservation and sustainable use of the area’s highly migratory species, said WCPFC.

“As the world’s population continues to grow, so does demand for food and in particular, sources of protein. This increasing demand means greater pressure on the ocean’s resources and their ability to reproduce in a sustainable manner,” said WCPFC.

“Conservation and management measures developed under terms of the Convention apply to these stocks throughout their range or to specific areas within the Convention Area,” added WCPFC.

WCPFC was established by the Convention for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPF Convention) in 2004. rw: wpg