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BFAR: More LGUs to be enlisted in illegal fishing monitoring scheme

THE Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) on Wednesday said it hopes to enroll more municipalities in the use of its Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing monitoring system.

“We have more than 900 coastal municipalities. Right now, ang gumagamit ay nasa 395 (current users are 395), so we are looking at expanding the number of local government units using (our system),” BFAR Chief Information Officer Nazario C. Briguera told reporters.

The IUU Fishing Index and Threat Assessment Tool (I-FIT) determines the vulnerability of communities to IUU fishing.

“The I-FIT data highlights a broader spectrum of the IUU fishing that is meant to serve as a benchmark in assessing the country’s exposure to IUU fishing, which should serve as the criterion for monitoring progress,” BFAR OIC Director Isidro M. Velayo, Jr. said.

Trade agreements, particularly with the European Union (EU), require the Philippines to observe international norms for labor rights, human rights, and illegal fishing, among others, making IUU monitoring a key component in keeping the Philippines eligible for trade privileges.

The BFAR also launched the Fisheries Sharing Hub on Investigation, Enforcement, Litigation, and Detection System (FishSHIELDS) which equips local enforcers digital tools to identify, prevent, and apprehend IUU fishing cases.

The monitoring system was developed in partnership with the US Agency for International Development.

Mr. Briguera said that the I-FIT platform will help diagnose the prevalence of IUU fishing in a particular area, while FishSHIELDS serves as the response system for illegal fishing reports.

“It does not need to be online; it can be offline. And then it will be received by fisheries personnel or law enforcers. From there, there will be coordination in the local government units (LGUs) for a real-time response,” he added. — Adrian H. Halili