The Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) celebrates 68 years of committed service to the fishery sector with the theme “BFAR ANIbersaryo: Going Great at 68” today, July 1, 2015.

This year’s theme is anchored on the bureau’s proactive efforts toward a more progressive fishery sector for the years ahead while recognizing the remarkable leaps it has achieved from the fruitful year that has gone by.

Geared to efficiently move forward, BFAR takes off with a significant progress in its policy and structural reforms, most notably the on-going developments on Republic Act (RA) 8550, as amended by RA 10654 or “An act to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, amending Republic Act No. 8550, otherwise known as ‘The Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998’ and for other purposes,” which lapsed into law on February 27.

BFAR with representatives from the academe and other concerned agencies as well as the private sector are now crafting the law’s Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR), which is expected to be completed by October this year.

“With a firm stand against IUU fishing through a comprehensive legal framework, the bureau is now more equipped in winning the fight against all forms of unsustainable resource use compromising not only the environment but also the long-term livelihood and employment of around 1.8 million fisheries stakeholders,” DA Undersecretary for Fisheries and concurrent BFAR national director Asis G. Perez said.

Incidentally, the Philippines now joins the ranks of cooperating countries in the global fight against IUUF after the European Commission acknowledged the country’s commitment and revoked the yellow card warning on April 21 this year. This made the Philippines the earliest to get out of the yellow card status since it was issued on June 2014.

BFAR has also started capacitating volunteer personnel by means of a three-month law enforcement training to fill in more than 700 slots for law enforcers who will be stationed in the country’s fishing grounds.

On-going programs such as the Targeted Actions to Reduce Poverty and Generate Economic Transformation in the Fishery Sector (TARGET), National Program for Municipal Fisherfolk Registration (FishR) and Boat Registration (BoatR) aim to empower fisheries stakeholders, particularly fisherfolk, by promoting inclusive growth and poverty alleviation in the sector. Through these programs, the government will be able to provide precise interventions to identified fisherfolk population.

“Our municipal fisherfolk, the leg of the fisheries sector, were among those identified belonging to the poorest of the poor, reflecting the sector’s high poverty incidence. This calls for tailor-fitted strategies in intensifying the mechanisms to improve their condition,” Perez said.

This year’s anniversary celebration gives special attention to the employees’ overall well-being. BFAR invited fitness and health concessionaires to provide relaxation, grooming and, meditation services. One of the features of the program is the Laughter Yoga and Zumba, which BFAR employees participated in. Booths selling fishery products—live and processed goods—were also set up along with the wellness stalls.

The celebration is capped by a boodle fight of seafood dishes with the purpose of promoting the abundance of the country’s fisheries resources and strengthening public awareness on IUUF. # # # (DA-BFAR Information and Public Relations Group)