Press Release
August 7, 2018

Senate OKs regulation, legal framework for fisheries profession

The Senate approved today on third and final reading a bill which would create a professional regulatory board and legal framework to regulate the practice of fisheries profession in the Philippines. Senate Bill No. 1641 was authored by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, chair of the Senate Committee on Civil Service, Government Reorganization and Professional Regulation, along with Senators Loren Legarda and Cynthia Villar.

The bill was approved with 21 affirmative votes, zero negative vote and no abstention.

Trillanes, who sponsored the bill, said the measure sought to provide a program which would "set up an appropriate and healthy environment for the practice of the fisheries profession." "It is high time that we address the gaps and the government shortcomings in the fisheries profession by creating a professional regulatory board and legal framework, for the profession," he said.

The bill, Trillanes added, would also "establish quality standards for fisheries professionals that would guide fisheries schools or colleges in updating their curriculum," consistent with other professional regulatory laws passed by Congress.

Under the bill, a 'Professional Board of Fisheries' will be created under the supervision of the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC). The fisheries profession will be integrated "into one national professional organization, through the Accredited Integrated Professional Organization to be recognized by the PRC through the new Board of Fisheries."

Admission into the fisheries profession will require passing licensure examinations to be conducted by the Board of Fisheries every year, according to the bill.

To pass the examinations and obtain a license and a professional identification card, candidates "must obtain a weighted general average of 75 percent with no grade lower than 60 percent in any of the subjects."

According to Trillanes, the bill is relevant as the country addresses challenges posed by its commitments to the ASEAN Economic community, "particularly in terms of movement of professionals in the region." "This measure would undoubtedly highlight and complement the talents and skills of Filipino fisheries professionals, not only to make them more globally competitive, but also to enable them to render greater service to our country and our people," Trillanes said.

At present, he said, the fisheries profession is considered "a mere component" under the agriculture sector, despite the importance of fisheries in food security and the country's economic development.

Trillanes said that practitioners in the fisheries industry believe that the fisheries should be an industry and profession separate from the agriculture sector, citing national laws like RA 8550 or the Fisheries Code of 1998, and RA 8435 or the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act of 1997, which mandated government "to provide priority attention and support to professionalize the practice of fisheries profession in the Philippines." (JDC)

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