Amended Fisheries Code IRR signed
Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala has signed the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Amended Fisheries Code, even as commercial fishers opposing the law held a fishers’ strike and held off supplies from markets.
According to the Department of Agriculture, the 89-page rules were the result of the 20-day drafting process, which was participated in by commercial fishing companies, government sector, civil society organizations, academe, nongovernment organizations and small fisherfolk.
“We thank all the members of sector who actively participated in promulgating the [implementing rules] of the amended fisheries code,” Alcala said in a statement.
“We continue to encourage everyone to support the law that aims to safeguard our seas in order to achieve sustainable fisheries, for the benefit of the whole fishery sector,” Alcala said.
The rules cover specific procedures on how to impose the penalties on fishers who committed illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities. They also lay down the guidelines on the enforcement of various fisheries conservation measures.
Also, the rules will take effect 15 days after publication in newspapers of general circulation.
In a separate statement, Oceana Philippines, the local unit of the international organization of ocean conservation advocates, lauded this development, which is “a step in the right direction, as it can help ensure that commercial vessels are fishing in their designated areas.”
“The new rules may not be perfect, but they provide stronger mechanisms and remedies for authorities and citizens alike hope for long term sustainable fisheries,” said Gloria Estenzo Ramos, vice president of Oceana Philippines.
Last Tuesday and Wednesday, groups of commercial fishers held a “fishers’ strike” in Metro Manila and key provinces across the archipelago.
Mario G. Pascual, president of the Pederasyon ng mga Mangingisda sa Buong Pilipinas Inc., said in an interview the fishers’ protest would continue for another three days in the fish markets of Quezon and Iloilo and another five days in Zamboanga.
Other fishers groups like the Samahan ng mga Buong Mangingisda sa Navotas and the Alliance of Philippine Fishing Federation Inc. (APFFI) have joined forces with Pascual’s organization.
For the APFFI, Republic Act No. 10654 means killing off small commercial fishers, for whom the law does not provide alternative ways of continuing their operations. Ronnel W. Domingo
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