Press Release
September 21, 2011


In the wake of reports that the country's popular fish species are getting fewer and smaller due to overfishing , Senator Ramon Bong Revilla, Jr. today pressed for the expansion of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) into a department separate from the Department of Agriculture (DA).

The senator filed a bill that seeks to create the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DFAR) whose primary function is to ensure the preservation and proper development of the country's marine resources. At present, this function is being handled by BFAR, an agency under the DA.

In pushing for this proposal, Bong Revilla said the creation of the DFAR will be a significant breakthrough in providing utmost protection to Philippine marine resources. "Being a country with enormous bodies of water and abundant marine resources, a significant number of Filipinos engage in fishing as their main source of livelihood. Our proposal will correct the traditional bias of government for agriculture and provide the long-delayed attention to our fishermen," he pointed out.

The lawmaker stressed that it is only proper to convert BFAR into a department so that it can have sufficient manpower and larger fund to effectively address the problems besieging the country's fisheries and aquatic resources. He cited as example the news report that the population and size of small pelagic fish species--sardines, matambaka and galunggong--were dwindling due to overfishing. Small pelagic species, which is the most affordable and common source of protein for ordinary Filipinos, account for half of Philippine seafood catches.

Based on the national stock assessment program of BFAR, there are 10 fishing grounds in the country where overfishing occur. These are the Lingayen Gulf, northern Zambales, Visayan Sea, Camotes Sea, Honda Bay, Babuyan Channel, Lagonoy Gulf, Sorsogon Bay, Hinatuan and Dinagat Bay and Davao Gulf. "If the exploitation of our major marine grounds continues, this will be very bad to our economy. Our fishing industry is at stake here. If we fail to address this properly, this will trigger unemployment," said Bong Revilla, referring to the report of Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission that there are 1.5 million people working in the fishing industry of the Philippines and it exports an estimated $769 million worth of fish every year.

Under Senate Bill 1989, the DFAR will develop and implement a Monitoring Control and Surveillance System (MCSS) for Philippine fisheries and oceans at the national and regional levels to ensure that the fisheries and marine resources in Philippine waters are wisely utilized and managed on a sustainable basis. It will also actively engage in the conservation, protection and rehabilitation of rare, threatened and endangered marine species as it may determine, including their habitats. "Our bill will give impetus to the government's continuing efforts to increase food production to meet the demands of the country's fast growing population. A well-managed fisheries and marine resources are necessary in upholding food security," Bong Revilla added.

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