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Philippines And PNG Sign Fisheries Cooperation Agreements

Manila and Port Moresby signed the implementing arrangements on fisheries cooperation projects and on complementary competencies for official control on fishing/freezer vessels in Papua New Guinea.

The implementing agreements were signed by Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resourecs (BFAR) Director Malcolm Sarmiento and Papua New Guinea’s National Fisheries Authority (NFA) Managing Director Sylvester Pokajam.

The Department of Agriculture (DA), under which BFAR is attached, noted that the implementing arrangements fleshed out the memorandum of understanding for fisheries cooperation between the Philippines and Papua New Guinea.

Papua New Guinea will allow Philippine fishing vessels to fish for tuna in its exclusive economic zone [EEZ] subject to certain conditions,” said Sarmiento in a telephone interview.

The BFAR chief disclosed that fishing operators must apply individually to the government of Papua New Guinea for a license to operate and the issuance of vessel days under the Vessel Days Schemes.

Sarmiento disclosed that Port Moresby is “encouraging” Philippine companies to invest in Papua New Guinea’s fisheries sector.

“Two Philippine companies have already invested in Papua New Guinea by putting up fish-processing plants,” he said.

The EEZ of Papua New Guinea is known to be a rich source of tuna.

Manila, meanwhile, will assist Port Moresby in aquaculture development and in providing technical assistance in the development of production enhancement and postharvest infrastructure facilities such as fish ports and auction-type fish markets.

In the second memorandum of arrangement, the two countries further agreed to have a mutual arrangement and recognition of the inspection protocols and procedures for the fishing/freezer vessels flying Papua New Guinea and Philippine flags and unloading catch in both countries and/or exporting to the European Union.

The EU in its Commission Decision 2006/766/EC recognizes BFAR and Papua New Guinea’s NFA as competent authority (CA)  of each country. As a CA, these institutions are tasked to verify and certify compliance of fishery and aquaculture products in accordance with the EU Hygiene Regulations.

Under this specific agreement, BFAR delegates its capacity to NFA to regularly inspect the fishing and/or freezer vessels to ensure compliance with the EU  requirements while operating in Papua New Guinea waters; inspect the fishing and/or freezer vessels carrying and landing fish in Papua  new Guinea EU- accredited facility intended for export to the EU market; and to recommend measures deemed necessary to ensure compliance to EU requirements for both the fishing and/or freezer vessels and for fish products intended for export to the EU market.

The NFA, on the other hand, agrees to delegate its authority to DA-BFAR to undertake all the abovementioned inspection procedures to Papua New Guinea fishing and/or freezer vessels operating in the Philippine EEZ.