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Only 11 Seiner Meet Conditions For High Seas Pockets Philippines, December 3, 12

The Philippines will push for an extension of its exclusive access to High Seas Pocket-1 (HSP-1), citing a steady decline in the country’s tuna catch since 2009 due to the closure of the high seas by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC). Only 11 Philippine seiners have met the BFAR and WCPFC standards to fish in the pockets so far.
This is amid the request for the closure of HSP-1.
“We pray that the Commission would find merit to the country’s request for an extension of fishing access in the high seas,” Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said in his keynote speech before the 9th Session of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission that opened yesterday at the Philippine International Convention Center.
The Philippines was granted exclusive access by the WCPFC to HSP-1 from Oct. 1, 2012 to Feb. 28, 2013.
Mr. Alcala cited the importance of tuna fishing in the country, emphasizing the effect of a closure in 2009.
He noted that Philippines tuna production last year went down by 20.88% to 504,000 metric tons (MT), from 2008’s 637,000 MT.
“We could not deny that since the said closure, fishing effort has been transferred from the High Seas to our Exclusive Economic Zone, resulting [in] an increase in catch of juvenile tunas,” Mr. Alcala said.
The Philippines is allowed 36 fishing boats to harvest tuna in HSP-1. So far, only 11 have met the standards set by both the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and the WCPFC.
Under the fishing body’s current Conservation and Management Measure, these fishing vessels must be equipped with an automatic location communicator and are required to submit a report 24 hours prior to entry and no more than six hours prior to exiting HSP-1.
“These 11 fishing vessels have complied with our strict requirements and all of them are monitored closely by foreign observers on deck,” BFAR Director Asis G. Perez said in a press conference yesterday.
Mr. Perez also said that the government is implementing several measures to ensure responsible fishing.
He noted several programs and policies such as BFAR’s fisheries administrative orders, which include rules in the implementation of the fisheries observer program wherein regional observers are placed inside fishing vessels.
He also cited the National Tuna Fish Aggregating Device (FAD) Management Policy.
The 9th Session of the WCPFC started yesterday and will end in Dec. 6.