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20 slots of BFAR scholars filled

Author: BFAR-CAR

In anticipation of the forthcoming Fisheries Scholarship Program Nationwide Examination for Industry Leaders (IL) and Children of Fisherfolk (FCEG) Scholarship, regional FSP Coordination had gathered at Tanza, Cavite to discuss significant issues and concerns relevant to the implementation of the program. This was spearheaded by Amor G. Diaz, OIC-FIDSD and newly-assigned National FSP Coordinator.

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The three general arising issues discussed dwelt on the management, the coordinators, and the scholars. The first two days focused more on deliberations among the regional coordinators regarding the status of the program implementation. It was remarked by Atty. Asis G. Perez, BFAR National Director, that this scholarship is not a right but an opportunity. Hence, qualified applicants will be granted a four-year Bachelor of Science in Fisheries course scholarship.

During the workshop, it was pronounced by Dir. Perez that the additional number of scholars per region shall depend on the total number of registered fisherfolk in the region. The Central office is tasked to identify it, however, the minimum number of scholars will be maintained in CAR.

In the case of Industry Leaders, three slots will be maintained per region and if possible they should be children of fisherfolk, too. Additional testing centers will be at the discretion of the Regional Director, however, there should be a minimum of 30 examinees per testing center. It was likewise proposed to have it per province.

Applicants who wish to avail of the FCEG scholarship must be a high school graduate or 4th year graduating student (SY 2011-2012) who is a son/ daughter of bonafide small-scale fisherfolk. He must not be more than 20 years old, has not be presently enrolled or have taken any units in any course and the general weighted average should not be lower than 80%. Also, his family's annual gross income should be not more than P25,000.00. His parent/s must be a member of a fishing association or cooperative duly attested by the chairman and secretary of the association. And last, he must be a resident of the municipality for at least four (4) years.

On March 27, 2015, applicants for FCEG scholarship in the Cordillera took their examination at the Cordillera Hall of the BFAR Regional Office where 20 students were granted the scholarship while 3 scholars for IL applicant were given the slot. An IL applicant must belong to the top 10 of his graduating class duly certified by the school head/principal.

For the next examination in 2018, Dir. Perez said that the administration of examination as well as the checking of answer sheets shall be undertaken at the regional offices so that the date of examination will be identified by the region to avoid conflicts of schedules. A coding system in checking will also be provided, Dir. Perez added.

For budget allocation, Ms. Fely Poniente instructed each region to prepare a work and financial plan in participation for 2016. CAR has a total of P2,900,188.00 budget allocation for 2016 which includes monthly stipends, tuition fees, and other pecuniary related concerns of the 36 scholars as projected. For 2015, as approved by Dir. Perez, the following are changes with regard to the increase in allocation:

Monthly stipend: P 3,000 (2015) P 4,000 (2016)
Graduation: P 1,500
Thesis support P 7,000

This complies with the provision of Section 130 of RA 8550 which states that the sum necessary to effectively carry out the provisions of this Act during the first year of the implementation shall be sourced from the budget of the DA/BFAR and other agencies performing fisheries-related functions; Provided however, that such amount as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of Sections 79, 109, 110, 111, 112, 113 are hereby, appropriated out of the unappropriated funds of the National Treasury. The Congress of the Philippines shall provide for the appropriations of the Department, the NFRDI, and the Fisheries Scholarship Program for the succeeding years to be included in the annual GAA."

Further, a mandate is given for the quarterly checking of scholars. A Certification Report must be prepared by the coordinator and noted by the Regional Director that these scholars are still enrolled and attending regular classes. Coordinators should help in the systematic resolution of problems to be encountered by the scholars. The region should also encourage scholars to conduct their thesis and On-the-Job training in their respective region.

Scholars who graduate with flying colors as Summa cum laude, Magna cum laude, and Cum laude will be given the "Gawad Pagkilala" award.

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Amended Fisheries Code took effect, IRR out by September

Author: BFAR-CAR

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources strengthens its fight against illegal fishing activities in the country through amending Republic Act 8550 also known as the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998.

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RA 8550 was amended by RA 10654 which was passed into law on February 27, 2015. It took effect 15 days after its publication on March 9 while consultation with the stakeholders for the drafting of IRR was scheduled on April 13 and 14, 2015. The drafting committee comprises of representatives from the government, private sector, civil society, and the academe.

The newly amended fisheries code is an "Act to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing." As defined by the International Plan of Action (IPOA), IUU fishing refers to fishing activities that do not comply with national, regional, or international fisheries conservation or management legislation or measures.

According to Atty. Annaliza A. Vitug, amending the fisheries code is part of the country's international commitment based on IPOA which encourages states to adopt a national plan of action (NPOA) to effectively curb all forms of IUU fishing. This was promulgated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations where the Philippines is a member. In line with this commitment, the Philippines had formally adopted its NPOA-IUU through Executive Order No. 154 which was signed in 2013 by President Benigno Aquino III.

On April 2015, the administration was pleased in the country's development as the European Union finally revoked the 'yellow card' notice issued to the Philippines in 2013. The yellow card notice is issue to countries with unregulated illegal fishing activities. European Commissioner Karmenu Vella of the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries has recognized the responsible action taken by the Philippines in amending its legal system and switching to proactive approach against illegal fishing.

IUU fishing is seen as a main threat to the sustainability of migratory and shared stocks which has caused depletion of fisheries and aquatic resources globally. This is why a need for a major global effort to prevent the scenario was realized.

As defined in the amended law, illegal fishing takes place where vessels operate in violation of Philippine laws. This also applies to fisheries that are under the jurisdiction of other coastal states or to high seas fisheries regulated by regional organization.

Unreported fishing refers to fishing activities which have not been reported, or have been misreported to the Department, in contravention of national laws and regulations of the Philippines or undertaken in the area of competence of a relevant RFMO which have not been reported or have been misreported.

Furthermore, unregulated fishing generally refers to fishing by vessels without nationality but operated by Filipino, Philippine flagged fishing vessels operating in areas managed by RFMOs to which the Philippines is not a party or Philippine flagged fishing vessels operating in areas or fish stocks where there are no applicable conservation and management measures.

Among the salient features of the newly-amended fisheries code is the increase in fines and adoption of a wide array of accompanying administrative penalties for serious violations to ensure that sanctions are dissuasive and have deterrent effect. The following is the proposed range of fines for violations/offenses committed by fishing scale:

2M-9M pesos for small scale commercial fishing
10M-15M pesos for medium scale commercial fishing
16M-20M for large scale commercial fishing vessel less than 750 gross tons
25M-45M pesos for large scale commercial fishing vessel 750

The law also empowers BFAR to enforce the international and regional conservation measures in Philippine waters as well as the archipelagic waters.

In anticipation of the implementation of the newly amended Philippine fisheries code of 1998, BFAR Information Officers were gathered to create a wide scale of public awareness on the newly amended law. Their role is recognized as pivotal to the diffusion of information in priority sectors.

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Balbalan fisherfolk gain skills on proper fish handling

Author: BFAR-CAR

Despite having to hike for several hours, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR-CAR) through its Fisheries Postharvest and Marketing Division, traversed through rugged and slippery mountains to reach Barangay Tawang in Balbalan, Kalinga to conduct postharvest activities.

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The group, together with fisherfolk, braved a two-hour walk to reach Barangay Tawang, a remote area where no vehicle can possibly reach.

During the activity, 37 participants attended who are as fish farmers, housewives, and out-of-school youth. Fish processing techniques, proper fish handling, and actual hands-on demonstration were conducted. The participants were also trained on proper ways of Bangus (milk fish) deboning such as splitting, removal of internal organs, backbone, and dorsal fin. From the procedures, participants learned that bangus has 196 to 208 number of spines. Simple procedures on fish smoking with the use of rice and brown sugar were also introduced. Making of fish-meat recipes such as siomai, shanghai, and fresh lumpia were also prepared and demonstrated to the participants.

Through this activity, participants were able to improve and gain new cooking methodologies which can help them generate livelihood. They were also provided with knowledge on cooking different fish recipes that they can apply in their homes. The barangay chairman Jerry Bagsao said, "We are very glad that in this remote area, BFAR came to our place to conduct this activity. We are lucky to learn more knowledge on postharvest activities which can be applied in our homes aside from the usual procedures we are doing." Post training activities are part of the Bureau's extension services. These activities are conducted to train fisherfolk or small groups of community, men and women alike, to provide additional skills development and hands-on trainings as part of the agency's programs on sustainable livelihood in communities.

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BFAR, LGUs implements boat registry

Author: BFAR-CAR

As part of the Bureau's aim to reduce poverty incidence among fisherfolk in the country by 4% within the year, the Municipal Fishing Vessel and Gear Registration was implemented.

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This effort is under the Targeted Actions to Reduce Poverty and Generate Economic Transformation in the Fishery Sector (TARGET) program of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources which was launched in November 2014. The phase I of this program called the Fishing Community and Resource Profiling covers two initiatives: Fisherfolk Registration (FishR) and Boat Registration (BoatR).

BoatR is designed to enhance, fast-track, and complete the nationwide registration of municipal fishing vessels (3 gross tons or below) and municipal fishing gears as required under EO No. 305 s. 2004 and Sec. 19 of RA 8550 otherwise known as the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998.

Though Cordillera is non-coastal, BoatR is mandated to be implemented among small scale fishers, it being a part of the Bureau's mandate to determine priority areas for project implementations. Planning Officer Arnold L. Paleng said that fishermen in the country remained at the top as one of the poorest among basic sectors since 2003 with .04% share in the national economy. To break this trend, a comprehensive anti-poverty program for the municipal fishers and fish farmers should be implemented. In CAR, an initial pre rollout training was conducted among the eight priority municipalities of the region namely Luna and Pudtol in Apayao; Itogon and Bokod in Benguet; Aquinaldo and Alfonso Lista in Ifugao; and Pinukpuk in Kalinga; and Paracelis in Mt. Province. These municipalities were identified based on the number of registered fisherfolk in the system comprising atleast75 fisherfolk and are involved in capture fishing activities.

BFAR_CAR Director Lilibeth L. Signey, said the registration is necessary in designing relevant programs to assist LGUs in the development, management, regulation, conservation, and protection of fishery resources and in establishing a Comprehensive Fishery Information System.

The program, according to Assistant Regional Director Lois June B. Fermin, is aimed at guiding partner LGUs and other line agencies in the selection, conceptualization, and prioritization of government programs intended for the target beneficiaries in the sector.

"As registration of fisherfolk continues, priority areas will also increase," ARD Fermin encouraged.

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Fishery Law Enforcers undergo 90-day 'military' training

Author: BFAR-CAR

Fifty one personnel of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) were designated as fishery law enforcers upon graduating from a three-month course on the National Capability-Building for Fishery Law Enforcers.

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From this number, four of them were from BFAR-Cordillera Administrative Region. They were Arnulfo Taberna, Jr., Crisente Gayang, Junior Cesar Martinez, and Dennis de Vera. Mr. Taberna and Mr. Gayang bested the rest of the trainees for getting a spot on the top five and top ten, respectively. Mr. Gayang was also given the Marksmanship Award for garnering a perfect grade of 100% during the practical marksmanship examinations.

The training course was consisted of two parts. The first part was the transition period which lasted for 30 days. During this period, the participants were indoctrinated on discipline, conduct and values, basic tactical training, and strenuous physical training. The second part was the 60-day training on the BFAR operations and protocols, fishery law, aquatic protection, shipboard operations and practicum, advance tactical training, water search and rescue, field training exercises, and physical development program.

Atty. Asis G. Perez, National Director and concurrent Undersecretary for Fisheries, said that through this effort, BFAR will increase the number law enforcers to 700. They will then be deployed to the country's major fishing areas to attain sustainable fisheries management and services and to address the prevalent issue on illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing.

The three month-long course started on January 3, 2015, where a total of 53 candidates from all over the country reported for the second batch. The candidates took their oath seven days after entry, signalling the official start of the 90-day rigid and intense boot camp training. The training adopted the Philippine Military Academy course which was compressed into a three-month course.

Apart from physical trainings, fisheries-related lectures were also conducted such as Fish Examination, Mammal stranding, water quality monitoring, taxonomy, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), penal provisions of RA 8550, fish kill investigation, project proposal preparation, the basics in apprehensions, evidence gathering and preservation, including preparation of necessary papers and necessary attachments for the prosecution of violation of fishery laws.

Tactical courses on surveillance, background investigation, security survey and investigation, community relations, land navigation, marine navigation and map reading, radio communications, marine communications, basic life support, emergency responses for fire and flood disasters, water search and rescue (WASAR), and survival of life at sea (SOLAS) were also discussed.

Trainings on Gun Safety and Marksmanship, firing of 0.9mm caliber Jericho, and M-4 automatic rifle, Ropesmanship training such as knot tying, knot tying under water, rope crawls, and rappelling were included. Life-saving swimming activities were also undertaken as part of boosting self-esteem and endurance.

Several fun run activities that comprised of 32-kilometer Company run, 16-kilometer Platoon run, 8-kilometer Squad run, and 2-kilometer buddy run was also included.

The trainees also visited the Sangley Point in Cavite, home of the Philippine Navy, Philippine Coast Guard, the Marines, and the Navy Special Operations Group (SOG).

Facilities used by the trainees also included that of the Close Quarter Combat (CQB) and the Obstacle Course drills. Lectures and practical exercises on basic boat operation and ship boarding procedure were done simultaneously. After which, the trainees individually drove the BFAR patrol boats, including the BFAR Monitoring, Control, and Surveillance (MCS) Patrol Boat, circling Manila Bay to Corregidor Island.

The trainings were facilitated by the BFAR-FLE-Quick Response Team, the different division heads and staff of the BFAR-Central Office, representatives from environmental NGO's, and the training directorate composed of retired uniformed personnel from the Philippine Army, Philippine Navy, Navy Sea, Air, and Land (Seal), and Scout Rangers.

The FLECC training for the 2nd batch officially ended on April 12, 2015 at BFAR-National Brackishwater Fisheries Technology Center (NBFTC) in Sitio Iringan, Palsabangon, Pagbilao, Quezon.

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