U.S. and Philippine governments combat illegal fishing across Southeast Asia

U.S. Embassy in the Philippines' United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Southeast Asia Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC) and the government of the Philippines, through its Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), launched yesterday a partnership in support of The Oceans and Fisheries Partnership (USAID Oceans).

The program will enhance the sustainability of Asia-Pacific fisheries, protect the region's rich marine biodiversity, and mitigate the serious impacts that result from illegal and unregulated fishing. USAID Oceans works with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Coral Triangle member countries to enhance catch documentation and traceability, fisheries management, and human welfare.

As hundreds from the fisheries sector gather at the 18th Annual Tuna Congress in General Santos City, USAID Oceans and BFAR announced the partnership and the launch of a learning site in the area, which will serve as a model for regional learning and expansion.

"Illegal and unreported fishing has serious impacts. In the Philippines alone, over 450 tons of fish are caught using illegal practices each year, resulting in annual economic losses of up to $620 million," said Alfred Nakatsuma, Director of the Regional Environment Office at the USAID Regional Development Mission for Asia. The effects are felt across the Asia-Pacific region, with decreasing fish stocks that threaten global food stocks and livelihoods, as well as human welfare abuses that marginalize millions and claim lives. "There is a global movement occurring to improve the ocean's health, enhance the sustainability of fisheries, and increase accountability throughout the seafood supply chain, and we are committed to deepening our engagement through this partnership for the long-term well-being of our oceans."

In support of this global movement and as one of two project learning sites, General Santos will pilot the USAID Oceans Catch Documentation and Traceability System. The system will trace the movement of seafood from "bait to plate," all the way through to export to U.S., EU, and neighboring ASEAN markets.

Source: Philippine Information Agency