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Philippine Tuna Catchers Prepare To Comply With EU Rules Against IUU Fishing

For small fishing operations to meet the requirements in a fish catch certification scheme the European Commission will implement on January 1, 2010, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) intends to prep the operators on the regulation on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, or IUU.
The fishing operators should be able to comply with the certification scheme through seminars and information campaign that the BFAR is now preparing for them, director Malcom  Sarmiento Jr. said.

“Our strategy is to identify and focus our efforts on educating small fishing operators that supply raw fish to processors and exporters.

We are doing this to ensure that small fishing operators would be able to comply with the fish catch certification scheme,” said Sarmiento in a telephone interview.

The BFAR chief was reacting to a statement by the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (Philexport) which indicated that tuna canners from General Santos City and operators of small and big fishing fleets are concerned over the ability of the agency to implement a nationwide fish-certification system.

Sarmiento said earlier the IUU fishing regulation could adversely impact on small-scale fishermen. BFAR noted that the Philippines has 5,000 motorized bancas used by small fishing operators.

The EU reasoned that the fish catch certificate will ensure that all fish products caught in the sea can be traced from time they were caught and where they were sold, as well as compliance with conservation and fishery management practices.
-While the certificates must reflect the exact location where the fish was caught and the volume of catch, a government agency from an exporting country would have to validate such information.-
The commission summed up the system as a way of curbing illegal, unreported and unregulated fish supply globally.

Meanwhile, the BFAR chief said the Philippines is prepared to join any effort by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to ask for more time to comply with the IUU fishing regulation.

“There is a plan among Asean member-countries to come up with a position on the EU fish-certification scheme.

The Philippines has indicated its willingness to join the move to ask the EU to delay the fish certification scheme,” said Sarmiento.

Sarmiento said Korea and Thailand have requested for a delay in the IUU fishing regulation.

Philexport noted that Indonesia had notified the EU last week that it would not be able to comply with the certification scheme.

Earlier, the Tuna Canners Association of the Philippines had asked the government to formally request the EU to give the Philippines more time to comply with the IUU fishing regulation.

The association indicated that the certification scheme could increase their costs by at least 15 percent.