BFAR needs assets upgrade to strengthen monitoring

Date: September 25, 2017

Source: Manila Bulletin
Author: Madelaine B. Miraflor

While the country continuously lose money on the weight of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) is claiming it needs more budget moving forward in order to upgrade its assets used for monitoring.

It was in 2015 when the government forged the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the amended fisheries code, which was hoped to provide a clear direction in terms of protecting and conserving the country’s marine and aquatic resources.

The IRR lays down the guidelines on the enforcement of various fisheries conservation measures, and specific procedures on how to impose penalties to fishers who commit IUU fishing activities.

Two years later, Drusila Esther Bayate, BFAR Assistant Director for Technical Services, said BFAR is still on the process of hiring more fishing regulations officers to intensify monitoring across the country’s waters.

She also said there’s now a need for the government to put in more investments for BFAR’s floating assets.

“We didn’t have law enforcers before the code was amended so this required a lot of efforts. We are now on the process of re-organization and we are recruiting fishing regulations officers (around 600 more). It is easy to say but in practice, this is hard to pull off,” Bayate said in an interview with reporters

“We are also on the process of building our floating assets. The ocean is just really too vast,” she added.

Right now, she said BFAR only has 14 monitoring control surveillance vessel that “have all outgrown their use.”

“We really need an upgrade,” she further said, adding the need for the government to invest in technology for intensified surveillance capacity.

For this year, BFAR has an allocation of P6 billion out of the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) P56 billion 2017 budget.

Bayate said the agency will likely get a slightly smaller amount next year.

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