By Zorayda Tecson
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga – The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have partnered for the continuing fight against illegal fishing in Central Luzon.
BFAR 3 (Central Luzon) Director Wilfredo Cruz said the USAID, through its Fish Right Program, engaged selected fisher folk in the region in listening sessions this week to help them understand the impact of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, which is a major contributor to declining fish stocks and marine habitat destruction.
Cruz said fishers from the towns of Masinloc and Subic in Zambales, and Mariveles in Bataan were involved in open discussions and consultations to hear out issues and concerns in their major fishing ground.
Through the sessions, he said, the fishers’ willingness to adopt harvest control strategies that can gradually reverse the deterioration of the fish population was determined.
Cruz cited the importance of the information gathered from the participating commercial fishers which, he said, would greatly contribute to reducing threats in fisheries and marine ecosystems.
At the same time, the gathered information will be essential to coming up with the best available data to develop fishery policies, he added.
“The effort further demonstrates the long-term partnership and joint strategic vision of the United States and Philippine governments to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and enhance the well-being of Filipinos who depend on fishing for food and livelihood,” Cruz said in a statement.
In October last year, the BFAR and the USAID conducted a training of trainers on the Philippine Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing Index and Threat (I-FIT) assessment tool.
Participants were the region’s law enforcement personnel, municipal agriculturists, provincial and LGU fisheries officers, technicians, and academicians who actively worked together to evaluate IUU fishing activities in their respective areas of jurisdiction.
During the workshop, the participants were trained to assess prevalence, vulnerability, and responses to IUU fishing and use the gathered information to develop targeted and focused strategies and interventions. (PNA)