Oceana: Declaring PH fishing grounds as fisheries management areas highlights conservation

Press Release Date

February 1, 2019

BFAR issued Fisheries Administrative Order (FAO) 263 last January 28. The order establishes 12 FMAs and seeks to provide a science-based and participatory governance framework for the management of these FMAs.

"We laud BFAR for the issuance of this policy. In the past, government divided our waters into fishing grounds. The primary focus then is exploitation patterns. Now, by declaring FMAs, we are focusing on conservation and participatory management. That is, if this order is properly implemented," said environment lawyer Gloria Estenzo Ramos, vice president of Oceana Philippines, the largest international organization focused on restoring the world's oceans.

Ramos explained that FMAs are delineated based on an approximate stock boundaries, range, distribution, and structure.

"Science tells us that fish breed, feed and grow during their life cycle without regard for municipal or national waters. The implementation of the FAO establishing the FMAs would help address overfishing in 2/3 of our fishing grounds and the multiple anthropogenic pressures our oceans face including illegal fishing, habitat destruction, pollution and climate change," she said. 

Under FAO 263, each Fisheries Management Area must convene a management board where all stakeholders are represented. The management board is required to develop policies and programs for the FMA based on an ecosystems approach to fisheries management, as well as local government ordinances that will provide the governance framework for sustainable management of the FMA.

"The FMA also acknowledges existing cooperative arrangement like integrated Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Management Councils (IFARMC) and Protected Areas Management Boards (PAMBs). Prior to FAO 263, there are many existing and actively operating management bodies like the Tañon Strait Protected Area Management Board from which FMA management boards can learn from”, said Ramos.

FAO 263 also requires BFAR to convene a Scientific Advisory Groups (SAG) with representatives from academic institutions, BFAR Regional Offices, municipal fisherfolk groups, commercial fishing industry, and NGOs.

“This provision underscores the pivotal role of science in policy and decision making for fisheries management. The fisheries code requires the setting up of Reference Points and Harvest Control Rules. These can only be completed with credible science input," Ramos added.

 Reference Points are benchmarks from which limits to harvesting of fish stocks are set to ensure that their production is kept at sustainable levels.

Location: Manila, Philippines
Contact: Mar Guidote (mguidote@oceana.org)