The European Union (EU) on 21 April lifted the nation’s Yellow Card fisheries rating, which was slapped onto the Philippines in June 2014 for inadequately addressing illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing or IUUF.
“We laud the BFAR and all players for this success, but we should not stop here. We have created the momentum to sustainably transform the country’s fisheries sector,” says World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Philippines) President and CEO Joel Palma.
The rating served to warn the country that unless it took steps to seriously combat IUUF, all Philippine seafood products would be banned in the EU. The EU is the world’s top fish consumer, importing PHP 9.4 billion worth of seafood from the Philippines in 2013. The EU has sanctioned nations which ignore international fishing standards since 2010.
“The Philippines has fortunately taken responsible action, amended pertinent legal systems and switched to a more proactive approach to fight IUUF,” says EU Ambassador to the Philippines Guy Ledoux. The country now has a Green Card fisheries rating, allowing it to export products to the EU without sanctions.
Among the steps taken by the Philippines to curb IUUF are the amendment of its aging fisheries code, the creation of a national plan of action against IUUF, a decision to freeze new fishing licenses for three years, significant reinforcement of human and financial resources for fisheries, plus new rules on inspection, catch certification and traceability.
The EU estimates that up to 26 million tonnes of seafood – 15% of global yields – are caught via IUUF. “Our oceans are nearly in collapse with over 80% of global fish stocks overexploited,” explains Palma. “BFAR has pointed out that 10 of the country’s 13 major fishing areas are heavily exploited. With our population ballooning, can we afford to lose the systems that provide us with food? We call on the fisheries sector to sustain our seas.”
WWF works in over 100 countries to conserve marine resources. Its global campaign for 2015, Sustain Our Seas, shall be launched tomorrow to encourage public and private sector leaders to revive oceans and protect the lives and livelihoods of billions of people worldwide. (30)
WWF works throughout the Philippines to promote sustainable fisheries. Its Partnership Programme Towards Sustainable Tuna (PPTST) program has been promoting best practices for the Yellowfin tuna industry since 2011. Its Live Reef Food Fish Trade (LRFFT) work conserves Lapu-Lapu or grouper stocks in Palawan. Fishing and aquaculture employs over 1.5 million people in the Philippines. (Gregg Yan / WWF)
Stakeholders at a BFAR-hosted boodle fight. WWF and BFAR are strong allies in promoting sustainable fisheries and ensuring food security for millions of Filipinos. (BFAR)
For more information, please contact:
Ms. Joann Binondo
Partnership Program Towards Sustainable Tuna (PPTST) Project Manager, WWF-Philippines
Mr. Gregg Yan
Communications and Media Manager, WWF-Philippines