In addition to targeting low
income communities, the investment programme will help with infrastructure reconstruction
costs to support the rebuilding of fishing and farming communities affected by
Typhoon Haiyan Yolanda that struck the Philippines central Visayas region on 8
November 2013, causing widespread destruction of fishing ports, fishing boats,
farms and local communities.
Financial support for the
investment scheme includes a US$500 million loan from the World Bank and other
international credits. Apart from loans to small scale fishermen to buy fishing
boats, nets and other equipment, the government is funding infrastructure
construction to support fisheries and agricultural development.
Facilities being built include
fish landing centres and all-weather roads in rural areas to enable fishery
products and agricultural goods to be transported to local markets.
Among new initiatives the
Department of Agriculture Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR)
recently has announced plans to build 252 community fish landing centres in
strategic locations across the country to improve socio-economic conditions in
low income fishing communities.
Launching the project in Tanza,
Cavite, Philippines Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala explained that
building the new fish landing centres is aimed at reducing post-harvest fisheries
losses from 25% to 18% or lower through providing suitable modern facilities
where fish can be landed and sold.
“The construction of the fish
landing centres is part of the government’s commitment to deliver precise
interventions and promote inclusive growth in the fishery sector,” Mr Alcala
Costing PNP 2.85 million
(US$62,000) each to construct, the community fish landing centres will house
post-harvest equipment and facilities to keep fish and fishery products in good
condition. This should enable fishermen to sell their catch for a higher price
than is possible at traditional fish landing stations that many fishermen now
Local consumers will benefit from
the fish landing centres, Mr Alcala noted, as they will have better access to
safe fishery products.
In addition to their main
function, the new fish landing centres will be used by BFAR as venues to
provide fishery skills training and for other purposes such as monitoring fish
catches and for fish stock assessments.
BFAR has selected sites across
the country to build new fish landing centres assisted by the government’s
National Anti-Poverty Commission.
Potential sites have been
assessed based on poverty incidence in the surrounding area, municipal
population density, fisheries production, the number of registered fishermen in
the area, and the number of existing fish ports and fish landing areas.
Once built, the fish landing
centres initially will be operated by local government units and later
transferred to local fishermen’s cooperatives to run.
Government plans to support
development of small scale fishing communities require more information to be
collected about fishermen, fishing boats, fishing equipment and aquaculture
facilities so that progress can be monitored and the right assistance provided.
To improve information
collection, BFAR has launched a smart phone application in cooperation with Philippines
mobile phone operator, Smart Communications Inc, to fast track the bureau’s
national programme to register municipal or small scale fishing boats and their
Municipal fisheries and
agriculture officers are being provided with mobile tablet facilities to access
the application and enter data.
BFAR also has launched a national
programme to register municipal or small scale fishermen as part of wider
measures to monitor the fishing industry in different localities and promote
sustainable fisheries development.
As an incentive to encourage
municipalities to collect and file their data promptly, the Bureau is offering
grants worth PNP 2 million each to the first 100 municipalities to complete and
file their fishermen database entries to invest in local fishery-related
Fisheries are an important sector
in the Philippines
economy, employing about 1.6 million people, according to government figures.
Municipal fisheries employ 1.37 million people while the aquaculture sector
employs a further 226,000 people.
In addition, 16,500 fishermen are
employed in commercial fishing on large vessels that operate in the Philippines
waters and areas of the Pacific catching tuna and other species.
According to the latest
government figures, total fisheries production in 2013 (including seaweed)
reached 4.7 million metric tons (mt) worth PNP 244.6 billion.
In tonnage terms, total
production fell 3.3% or 200,000 mt, down from 4.9 million mt in 2012. Part of
the reason for the drop in fisheries output in 2013 was the serious impact of
Typhoon Haiyan Yolanda on the aquaculture and municipal fisheries sectors in
the central Visayas region after the storm struck in November that year.
Damage caused by the storm
continues to affect fisheries and agricultural production in affected areas as
work continues to repair the damage and support rebuilding of affected rural
Aquaculture is the Philippines
largest fisheries sector with production reaching 2.37 million mt in 2013, down
6.6% from 2.54 million mt the previous year.
Municipal fisheries consisting of
small scale and artisanal fishermen is the second largest fisheries sector with
total production of 1.26 million mt in 2013, down 1.3% compared with the
Commercial fisheries, meanwhile,
was less affected by the typhoon damage and recorded a 2.4% increase in
production in 2013, registering a total catch of 1.07 million mt, up from 1.04
million mt the previous year.
Government plans to boost marine
fisheries development as part of measures to increase family incomes in poor
coastal fishing communities are expected to benefit artisanal fishermen along
with larger commercial fishing and fisheries processing companies, many of
which export their products.
With important global fisheries
markets such as the European Union insisting that fish exporting countries take
effective measures to eliminate IUU fishing, seafood exporters in the
Philippines are relying on the government to crack down on illegal fishing to
protect small scale fishermen and ensure fisheries exporters enjoy continued
access to key international markets.
Efforts to tackle IUU fishing
have been stepped up following prompting by the EU. In June 2014, after more
than two years of talks concerning the previous lack of effective measures to
control IUU fishing, the EU announced it was giving the Philippines six months
to clamp down on illegal fishing or face tough sanctions including selective
fishery export bans to member countries.
Prospects for the future
development of the Philippines fisheries industry, in fact, have brightened
recently as the government boosts efforts to tackle IUU fishing by using its
new fisheries law enforcement training programme to build a national team of
fisheries officers charged with eliminating illegal fishing activities.
BFAR recently announced that a
third batch of fishery officers have completed IUU fishing law enforcement
training bringing the number of IUU law enforcement officers to have completed
the three month training programme to almost 200 since the training scheme was
launched in October 2014.
At the time of writing a fourth
batch of fishery officers were due to complete their training programme at the
end of October as part of government plans to deploy 700 trained IUU fishing
law enforcement officials throughout the country.
is a large archipelago formed by 7,107 islands which poses many challenges for
the government in its efforts to prevent and eliminate IUU fishing.
Most IUU fishing in the Philippines
involves large commercial fishing vessels fishing in waters within 15km of the
coastline which are reserved for local fishermen.
In addition, some artisanal
fishermen continue to use illegal fishing methods such as cyanide and dynamite
which destroy coral reefs and the surrounding ecosystems.
The government’s determination to
strengthen its anti-IUU fishing programme recently has received international
recognition following the European Commission’s decision to remove the Philippines
from its list of countries charged with implementing effective measures to tackle
illegal fishing activities.
The commission’s announcement in
April recognised the Philippines
government’s efforts to improve monitoring, control and surveillance of IUU
fishing over the past year and is expected to secure the future of thousands of
jobs in the nation’s fishing and fishery processing sectors that are reliant on
exports to the European Union and other major markets.
Fishery exports from the Philippines
to EU countries are worth about US$230 million a year, according to BFAR
figures, and account for about 15% of the nation’s annual total fishery
exports, including 40% of all tuna exports.
Total fishery exports in 2013
were worth $1.38 billion while fishery imports were worth $300 million,
resulting in a net fishery export surplus of $1.4 billion.
Seafood exports doubled in
tonnage terms in 2013 with some 333,465 mt exported during the year, up 101.7%
from 165,324 mt in 2012, according to BFAR.
Tuna, shrimp/prawn and seaweed,
the three major export categories, combined accounted for 69% of the total
export volume and 69% of the total export value as well in 2013, being 231,130
mt and $967 million respectively.
Tuna is the largest single
fishery export category and accounted for most of the Philippines fisheries
export growth in 2013 with some 165,757 mt of products worth $681 million being
exported during the year, representing a near threefold increase in export
volume and a 65% increase in value.
Canned tuna accounts for the bulk
of tuna exports while the major markets include the USA,
Japan and the United
Convincing the EU of its
seriousness in tackling IUU fishing is of key importance to the Philippines
government which plans to boost exports of fishery products and many other
goods to Europe in future by joining the EU’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences
Plus (GSP+) programme.
Joining the scheme would remove
tariffs from thousands of products that EU countries import from the
Philippines including fishery products on which the EU currently imposes a hefty
24% import tariff.
“The European Commission has
revoked the warning yellow card issued to the Philippines
in June 2014 regarding measures to fight illegal fishing. The EU acknowledges Philippines’
efforts to partner up with us in fighting illegal, unreported and unregulated
fishing,” the Commission said in statement issued in April when announcing the
revoking of its yellow card warning.
BFAR and Department of
Agriculture officials are pleased with the EU’s quick response to efforts to
tackle IUU fishing and emphasise the government’s ongoing commitment to control
and eliminate the problem.
“The Philippines government
through the Department of Agriculture welcomes the latest EU decision as formal
recognition of the Aquino Administration’s commitment to put an end to
unsustainable fishing practices which compromise not only the country’s marine
resources but also the long-term livelihood of around 1.8 million fishery
stakeholders,” said the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in a
statement on the bureau’s website following the European Commission
Mr Alcala, also welcomed the
Commission’s decision, pointing out that the government’s initiatives to curb
IUU fishing are aligned with the country’s international agreements, Asian
regional obligations and global market requirements.
“The Department is pleased with
this development as it formally recognises the government’s serious efforts to
prevent and eliminate all forms of fisheries resource abuse,” Mr Alcala said.
“The country’s effort against IUU
fishing is anchored on its commitment as member of the United Nation’s Food and
Agriculture Organization, which adopted the International Plan of Action to
prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing.
“In line with this commitment,
after a series of consultations with stakeholders, the Philippines
formally adopted a National Plan of Action through Executive Order No. 154
which was signed by President Benigno Aquino III in 2013.”
Meanwhile, in addition to plans
to deploy 700 trained IUU fishing law enforcement officers, BFAR is beefing up
its enforcement capability with the planned procurement of specialist vessels
for officers to carry out their duties.
Plans include the purchase and
deployment of 27 40ft Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) vessels, 70 30ft
multi-mission vessels and two 50m vessels equipped with necessary special
operations facilities and devices including service fire arms, GPS devices,
night vision goggles, scuba gear and, rigid-hulled inflatable rubber boats.