The Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has raised concern over
the continued presence of foreign vessels conducting fishing operations in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
Among others, Chinese Maritime Militia vessels have been monitored in big numbers in the West Philippine Sea, BFAR said in a statement.
“These foreign vessels have no clearance from the Philippine government or any existing fisheries cooperation agreements with the country that allow them to conduct any fishing operations. Their fishing activities, therefore, are considered Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing within the Philippine territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ),” the government agency said.
BFAR is closely coordinating with the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) and supports its plan led by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to file new diplomatic protests against the continuous presence and activities of these foreign vessels.
Following the directive of the NTF-WPS, BFAR maintains the deployment of its law enforcement vessels in the WPS.
With the recent signing of a memorandum of understanding between BFAR and the Philippine National Police – Maritime Group, the conduct of joint seaborne patrol in Philippine seas, including the WPS, will be further intensified with members of the latter to serve as ship riders on BFAR vessels.
Meanwhile, augmenting the efforts of the NTF-WPS in monitoring fishing activities in the area is the 24/7 operation of BFAR’s Fisheries Monitoring Center (FMC).
The FMC monitors and tracks activities of Philippine flagged commercial fishing vessels including foreign vessels equipped with Automatic Identification System (AIS), and detects fishing boats that employ lights to attract fish at night using the satellite-based tool, Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suites (VIIRS).
Starting next week, Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) images will also be used to reinforce monitoring and analysis of IUU fishing activities in the WPS.
Through these activities, the DA-BFAR shall continue to assist in keeping the safety of Filipino fisherfolk and exercising our country’s sovereignty and sovereign rights over our territorial waters and EEZ, respectively, in the WPS.