The Philippine National Police-Maritime Group (PNP-MG) and the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) inked a memorandum of understanding (MOU) at the BFAR Central Office in Quezon City on Friday, October 1, 2021.
The MOU allows PNP personnel to join any DA-BFAR available vessel as a “shiprider” to perform simultaneous seaborne patrol.
“The DA-BFAR shall act as the lead agency in the enforcement of fisheries and marine conservation laws while PNP-MG shall provide personnel to augment the bureau’s workforce in the conduct of seaborne patrol operations, particularly in the aspect of law enforcement and investigation,” the MOU said.
According to DA-BFAR National Director Eduardo Gongona, the signing of the MOU will strengthen the two government agencies’ efforts to enforce fishery laws, including conservation and management measures and marine conservation laws, in Philippine seas to prevent, deter, and eliminate illegal fishing and safeguard the area’s marine environment from overexploitation.
“Addressing illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing activity is a long-standing commitment of the government starting with the amendment of the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998. Republic Act 10654, otherwise known as ‘An Act to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing’, provides higher penalties for apprehended fishermen and boat owners while mandating better monitoring systems to stop IUU fishing,” Gongona said.
BFAR Fisheries Protection and Law Enforcement Group recorded 489 apprehensions as of September 2021, 436 of which were fishing vehicles, including municipal boats and small, medium, and large commercial fishing vessels.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar’s “OneDA” Reform Agenda, which emphasizes the use of technology and innovation in the agri-fisheries sector, as well as the DA’s guidance on strengthening fisheries conservation measures, has prompted BFAR to upgrade its law enforcement capability programs with cutting-edge technology such as the visible infrared imaging radiometer suite (VIIRS) and the Integrated Marine Environment Monitor (IMEMS).
Both VIIRS and IMEMS are intended to help the government better manage, control, and monitor the country’s coastal seas and Exclusive Economic Zone.
“With these projects being carried out, DA-BFAR and PNP-MG are optimistic that IUU fishing will be stopped in Philippine waters to ensure the safety of our fisherfolk and the conservation of our marine resources,” Gongona said.