National Orientation For The Roll-out Of The Philippine Illegal, Unreported And Unregulated (IUU) Fishing Index And Threat Assessment Tool (I-FIT)

Last 27 July 2021, 193 participants from the Department of Agriculture - Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR), USAID FishRight, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Central, Regional, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources (PENR) and Community Environment and Natural Resources (CENR) Offices together with the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) and Environmental Law Enforcement and Protection Service (ELEPS), convened together to conduct the National Orientation For The Roll-out Of The Philippine Illegal, Unreported And Unregulated (IUU) Fishing Index And Threat Assessment Tool (I-FIT) to DENR Regional and Field Offices, specifically for appropriate actions for IUUFs in NIPAS MPAs.

This initiative is part of BFAR and USAID Fish Right's collaboration towards an in-depth understanding of the magnitude of IUU fishing towards its long-term and targeted reduction. This includes setting up a national baseline of IUU fishing that can be compared across target areas in a standardized way and we can track our progress in reducing it over time. The outcome of this initiative will be open for the use of all relevant government agencies and other private institutions for the assessment, planning and implementation of long-term solutions to threats to biodiversity and the coastal and marine environment.

“BMB is glad that our partner from the BFAR is continuously strengthening their assets and capabilities in order to provide a more robust and responsive structure to promote fisher compliance to laws and regulations and to eliminate the IUU fishing practice in the country following a whole-of-society approach and guided by the best available science”, said Ms Desiree Eve Maaňo, Chief of the Coastal and Marine Ecosystems Management Section, Coastal and Marine Division, BMB.

BFAR’s Assistant Director for Operations, Mr. Samuel Malvas also commended the efforts of the government agencies; the enforcement, the functions, and their mandates to fight and arrest our problem with the illegal unreported IUU fishing. Actual quantification of the extent of IUU Fishing figure in the PH is still not available, thus, the assessment tool will provide us with a very good estimation of the extent and impacts of IUU fishing to our ecosystem and to our economy.

The orientation for IFIT background and rationale was led by Mr. Crejay Lacena, OIC of the Fisheries Protection and Law Enforcement (FPLEG) of BFAR, followed by Dr. Mike Atrigenio of USAID who presented the overview of the assessment tool. Atty. Wilmon Peñalosa of USAID Fish Right provided a preview of the GSuite for the Philippine I- FIT. This website serves as the database of the reference materials and guide on the process of assessing the vulnerability, prevalence and current responses to IUU fishing of certain areas. The last presenter was Mr. Howard Cafugauan of USAID Fish Right who shared BFAR and USAID Fish Right’s schedule and target areas for the I- FIT roll-out.

The event was concluded with the initial identification of twelve (12) DENR Regional and Field Offices on the use of the IFIT Tool, including priority sites for assessment. The list of the priority sites will be finalized upon the consultation of the DENR Offices with their respective Protected Area Management Board (PAMB).