The Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) will be distributing an initial 5,000 “transponders” or vessel monitoring measures (VMM) to commercial fishing vessels before the year ends.
DA Undersecretary and BFAR national director Eduardo Gongona revealed the move on the sidelines of the “Kapihan sa Talakayan Tungo sa Malinis at Masaganang Karagatan” held at the Sulo Riviera Hotel in Quezon City recently.
Gongona added that commercial fishing vessels will also be outfitted with electronic reporting systems (ERS).
“All Philippine-flagged commercial fishing vessels should be VMM- and ERS-compliant.”
The agriculture official said that all Philippine-flagged commercial fishing vessels allowed to operate in the high seas and those with access rights to fish in the exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of other countries, should be VMM- and ERS-compliant.
The VMM logs the vessel’s position, course, and speed at any given time for the purpose of traceability and management of fisheries resources and fishing effort.
Meanwhile, the ERS is a device used to transmit and record fish catch data to the BFAR near real time or simultaneous to transitions of location data.
The ERS must be able to transmit the following information: species and volume of fish caught, position of the vessel where the fish were caught, date and time, vessel activity, and port of origin and arrival.
Vessel operators will have access to the information generated by the VMM and each will be issued a unique username and password by the BFAR.
“The sinking of F/B Gem-Ver 1 should drive us to put in place mechanisms for the safety of our people and tracking behavior of fishing vessels.”
International advocacy group, Oceana, earlier said the sinking of F/B Gem-Ver 1 in the Recto Bank (Reed Bank) by a Chinese fishing boat last June 9 “should drive us to put in place mechanisms for the safety of our people and tracking behavior of fishing vessels within and even outside our territorial waters.”
The group said the VMS should be installed in all commercial fishing vessels, as required in the amended Fisheries Code.
“We need solutions, recommendations, and not analysis,” Gongona said in reaction to the Recto Bank incident.