OCEANA Philippines said the Philippines could face international sanctions following the suspension of a system for monitoring the movements of commercial fishing vessels. 

“Are we ready for another yellow card warning and looming threat of losing access to our biggest market for fish and seafood products such as the (European Union)?” Oceana Vice President Gloria E. Ramos said in a statement. 

Oceana has asked President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. to reconsider the decision, calling it “regressive” and warned that it might encourage intrusion by commercial fishing vessels in municipal waters. 

Fisheries Administrative Order (FAO) 266, which requires vessel monitoring mechanisms (VMM) for commercial fishing vessels, was the regulation that had been suspended. 

The EU imposes a number of conditions on trading partners enjoying concessional terms for their exports to the bloc, including the enforcement of regulations against illegal, unreported, and unsustainable (IUU) fishing. It lifted its yellow card warning on the Philippines in 2015 with the signing of Republic Act No. 10654 or the Amended Fisheries Code . 

“With this latest order from Malacañang, we have proven that we have not learned our lessons from the first yellow card warning from the EU,” she said. 

Ms. Ramos said that the suspension order will lead to “overfishing and “depletion of fish stocks,” as well as contribute to the decline of fisheries and marine resources. 

In a statement, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said the suspension was imposed pending a Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of FAO 266. 

“The BFAR, as the lead agency, shall convene the Philippine Committee Against IUU Fishing towards the end of the month,” it said. 

The committee is an inter-agency group tasked with formulating “holistic approaches” against IUU fishing. – Sheldeen Joy Talavera