THE Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said it is preparing to propose amendments to the 1998 Fisheries Code to clarify which types of commercial boats can fish in municipal waters.
BFAR Eduardo B. Gongona told BusinessWorld of the need “to harmonize the relationship between municipal and commercial fishing.”
“This is why we are doing a position paper for the Congress to study if we have to alter the definition of municipal waters or to increase the tonnage of the boats allowed in municipal waters.”
Under the law, the use of super-light commercial boats in municipal waters is not allowed. Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol last week noted that super-light commercial boats are “allowed in other countries” to operate inshore.
The BFAR is currently consulting with non-government organizations and local government units (LGU) to develop the position paper, which it expects to be presented to Congress by next year.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) is looking for an LGU to host a pilot program to increase the output of both municipal and commercial fisheries. The program hopes to test BFAR’s proposed amendments.
The BFAR’s budget was reduced 6.59% to P5.69 billion in 2019. Mr. Gongona said he does not expect this to significantly affect the agency’s operations.
“We have to make do with it. We have to use it to the most of our ability. We have to choose priority projects and remove programs of a lower priority,” he added. — Anna Gabriela A. Mogato