Senator Cynthia Villar on September 2, was guest speaker at the Closing Ceremony of the 23rd Tuna Congress in General Santos City with the theme “Adapting Strategies Responsive to Global Changes”.
This 2-day congress, has brought together experts and stakeholders, to provide an avenue to address the pressing global challenges faced by the Philippine tuna industry and to promote sustainable fishing practices.
The event was spearheaded by the SocSKSargen Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries (SFFAII) headed by its President & National Tuna Congress chairman Mr. Dominic R. Salazar, in partnership with the Department of Agriculture – Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR), the Cagayan de Oro City LGU and the Department of Trade and Industry. The Congress also gave the small-scale fishers the opportunity to speak out their needs and interests.
The Philippines is the 2nd top global exporter of tuna, next to Indonesia in Asia. Six species of tuna caught in Philippine six are in commercial quantity: yellowfin, skipjack, eastern little, frigate, big eye, and bullet.
The Philippines’ processed tuna, major export markets are the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan, and the Netherlands.
Senator Villar is the author of Republic Act 10654 in 2015 or the amendment to the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, which instituted the concept ofIllegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and sets increased penalties and sanctions as a deterrent to offenders.
The IUUF law prescribes the number of licenses and permits for the conduct of fishery activities, adopts the precautionary principle and mandates the balance – between over‐protection and over‐ exploitation of fisheries resources which necessitates the installation of a Vessel Monitoring System.(VMS), the lady Senator said.
The setting up of a VMS to prevent IUU fishing is a requirement by European Union for us to avail of the inclusion with the GSP+ that allows the Philippines to enjoy zero tariffs on 6,274 products or 66% of all EU tariff lines. Last year, 2.93 billion euros worth of Philippine products were exported to the EU using GSP+. GSP+ is contingent on implementation of core human rights, labour, governance, and other sustainable development conventions. The current GSP+ is valid until end of 2023.
IUUFishing also protects the welfare of our fisherfolk inside the 15-kilometer municipal waters and prevent poverty and hunger from setting in.
With the prediction of the occurrence of El Niño and the Ill effects of climate change, the tuna industry should be protected from overfishing and habitat degradation to prevent its depletion which may lead to its collapse.
Senator Villar reminded everyone that our ocean’s resources are not limitless and as such, it should be protected and sustained.
Image credits: Albert Calvelo/ Senate PRIB