MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines loses nearly P68.5 billion annually to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, according to US Agency for International Development (USAID) Environment Office chief John Edgar.
The United Nations also said that the Philippines’ fish production is on the decline due to competition from China.
Approximately 60 percent of Filipinos live in coastal zones and depend on coastal resources for their livelihood.
These resources are threatened by illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) loses nearly P68.5 billion a year to these harmful fishing practices and at least half of it (P30 billion) are going to Chinese poachers all over the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea.
Two million people who depend on fisheries for food and income stand to benefit from the United States and the Philippines’ P1.3-billion Fish Right project.
The US government, in partnership with the Department of Agriculture’s BFAR, launched last year the Fish Right project.
The five-year USAID project focuses on addressing biodiversity threats, improving marine ecosystem governance and increasing the number and weight of fish in the Calamianes Island group, Visayan seas and South Negros.
The partnership is expected to benefit two million people who depend on these resources for food and income.
Agriculture Undersecretary and BFAR director Eduardo Gongona reiterated the Philippine government’s commitment to marine protection and sustainable fisheries.
Since the 1990s, USAID has supported the Philippine government’s marine and biodiversity conservation efforts. This partnership has resulted in a 24 percent increase in fish biomass – or the number and size of fish – in target regions.
To build on this success and face the continued challenges of overfishing, the USAID Fish Right project aims to increase fish biomass and strengthen management of more than 2.5 million hectares of marine area.