Webinar Discusses State of the PH Fisheries Sector, Policy Gaps and Challenges, & Ways Forward
Published: 7 October 2021
The Foundation for the National Interest (FNI) and Amador Research Services (ARS), in partnership with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) and the German Embassy in Manila, conducted a webinar on the protection and sustainability of the fisheries sector on October 6, 2021, entitled, “Beyond Maritime Security: Protection and Sustainability of Fisheries”. This is the first of a planned two-part webinar series on maritime issues.
The topic of the webinar was a refreshing take on maritime issues, given that public debate tends to focus on the subject of maritime security amidst tensions over territorial disputes in the region. The webinar shifted focus on a topic that has a direct impact on the Filipinos, given the Philippines’ high dependence on aquatic resources for trade, livelihood, and food security.
The webinar was opened by German Ambassador H.E. Anke Reiffenstuel of the German Embassy in Manila and Dr. Vinzenz Huzel, Resident Representative from FES. The resource speakers were: Undersecretary Cheryl Marie Natividad-Caballero of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Department of Agriculture; Atty. Rose-Liza Eisma-Osorio, Legal and Policy Director of OCEANA Philippines; and Professor Christian Bueger of University of Copenhagen. Mr. Julio Amador, Interim President of FNI closed the event.
The webinar highlighted the global and local challenges of the fisheries sector as well as initiatives by the government and civil society.
Undersecretary Natividad-Caballero presented the details and progress of the Integrated Maritime Environment Monitoring System (IMEMS), a Project of the Philippine Government, which aims to ensure the sustainability and safety of Philippine fishing industry. The IMEMS will establish the necessary monitoring system to complement efforts to prevent and deter illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing and to effectively manage the fishery sector through data analytics.
Attorney Eisma-Osorio, representing Atty. Gloria Ramos and OCEANA, presented the state of the Philippines’ fishery sector underscoring the declining rate of fish catch at both the commercial and municipal production levels. Atty. Osorio identified overlapping functions of agencies, lack of data, and poor governance as among the major challenges in implementing the country’s regulatory mechanisms in response to overfishing and illegal fishing. According to Osorio, OCEANA has been a leading NGO against illegal fishing as it has implemented programs, including the KARAGATAN Patrol – an online platform that uses remote sensing technology to track the presence of illegal fishing vessels to combat this problem. Karagatan Patrol is a tool to report illegal fishery activities that are shared with local authorities to support enforcement activities.
Finally, Professor Bueger talked about the issues of the fishery sector across four paradigms: maritime security, blue economy, ocean health, and blue justice. He noted that these challenges are often addressed in separate discourses or separate agencies rather than approached holistically. Burger said there is an underlying need to build new bridges across these paradigms. He also suggested a more long-term perspective, not only on protecting fisheries and fighting illegal fishing but to have a fundamental discussion, for example, on how to scale back industrial fishing activities.
The next webinar “Marine Environment and Climate Change: Impacts on the Blue Economy” will be held in November 2021.
Screenshots of the event found below.