Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala has already signed the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the amended Philippine Fisheries Code on September 22, 2015 in Quezon City.

The 89-page IRR provisions on Republic Act (RA) 10654 or the act that amended RA 8550, otherwise known as the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, are the result of the 20-day drafting process, which was participated in by commercial fishing companies, government sector, civil society organizations, academe, non-government organization (NGOs) and fisherfolk representatives.

“We thank all the members of sector who actively participated in promulgating the IRR of the amended fisheries code. We continue to encourage everyone to support the law that aims to safeguard our seas in order to achieve sustainable fisheries, for the benefit of the whole fishery sector,” said Secretary Alcala.

The IRR covers specific procedures on how to impose the penalties to fishers who committed illegal, unreported and, unregulated (IUU) fishing activities. It also lays down the guidelines on the enforcement of various fisheries conservation measures.

One of its salient features is the application of Vessel Monitoring Measures (VMM) which only applies to Philippine-flagged commercial fishing vessels operating outside the country’s waters and commercial fishing vessels of 30 gross tons (GT) and above which are operating in the Philippine waters.  The implementation schedule of the VMM application is specified in the IRR.      

The IRR on the Amended Fisheries Code also includes a provision on the use of active gears such as purse seine, locally known as “pangulong” and ring net or “taksay” by small-scale and medium-scale commercial fishing vessels who may be allowed to operate in 10.1 to 15 kilometer off the shoreline subject to certain conditions prescribed by the law.

The IRR will take effect 15 days after its publication in newspapers of general circulation.  BFAR will conduct a two-month extensive information and education campaign (IEC) to ensure that fishery stakeholders and the general public are aware of the law. (DA-BFAR)