Addressing Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing in the Philippines

Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing not only weakens efforts to manage fisheries sustainably it also threatens the food and livelihood security of coastal communities. In the Philippines, marine biodiversity loss and fisheries decline have a significant impact on Filipinos, as fish provide more than 50 percent of their dietary protein and serve as an important source of nutrients. Small-scale or municipal fishers, estimated to be 1.7 million, are the poorest of the poor; four out of ten Filipino fishers live below the poverty line, catching an average of 3 kg/day and earning about $4/day (P195/day). Millions of dollars are lost each year from “fish poaching,” one of the most common forms of IUU fishing.

nullTwo enabling policy milestones:

  • In December 2013, Philippine government passed Executive Order 154, the Philippines’ National Plan of Action to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing. The plan outlines priority actions that will address the ecological, biological and socio-economic challenges posed by IUU fishing in a coordinated and integrated manner that will involve the collaboration of different Philippine Government departments and agencies.
  • In February, 2015, The Republic Act 10654, “An Act to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing, amending the 1998 Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998” lapsed into law.


USAID Assistance

Ecosystems Improved for Sustainable Fisheries (2012-2017)

nullIn the Philippines, under the Ecosystems Improved for Sustainable Fisheries activity, USAID is providing assistance to the Government of the Philippines, local governments, the private sector and stakeholders to strengthen fisheries governance and management, including enforcement. The project builds on progress made under USAID’s Fisheries Improved for Sustainable Harvest Project (2004-2010) toward conserving marine biodiversity, enhancing ecosystem productivity and improving fisheries and related livelihoods in eight Marine Key Biodiversity Areas in the Philippines.

In partnership with the Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, USAID supports enabling policies and provides tools that help address IUU fishing.  The Ecosystems Improved for Sustainable Fisheries project assisted with multi-stakeholder consultations in preparation for the implementation of the rules and regulations in RA 10654, which was approved by the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture in September 2015. With USAID’s support, the Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources provided training to fisheries officers in detecting, analyzing and documenting fish caught illegally with explosives, in compliance with the revised Fisheries Code. The Bureau also published a first Fish Examiners’ Training Manual in June 2016.

USAID partners with Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to support the registration and licensing schemes in the municipal fisheries sector as a key deterrent to IUU fishing. With USAID support, a first nationwide Municipal Fisheries Registration Program was set up in 2013 for the purposes of determining allocation priorities, limiting entry into municipal water and monitoring fishing activities. More than 1.5 million of the estimated 1.7 million municipal fishers have registered in the program to date. In addition, a national municipal registration of municipal fishing vessel and gear program was launched in 2015. USAID provides ongoing technical assistance to enhance the efficiency of Bureau’s online Municipal Fisherfolk Registration System, and enact enabling municipal legislation on registration for at least 60 municipal governments across the country.Image 4

In partnership with the Philippine Department of Science and Technology and Microsoft, USAID supported the first pilot application of TV White Space for municipal fisherfolk registration in Bohol province. TV White Space repurposes unused broadcast television frequencies to provide high speed wireless Internet access over ranges 10 times greater than traditional methods at a low cost and with minimal infrastructure requirements, making it a promising solution in developing countries. Through the successful implementation of this technology, over 16,000 fisherfolk have been registered in the pilot municipalities, with nearly a quarter of these registered through TV White Space. Government agencies are using this registration data to design and deploy better fisheries management interventions to address overfishing, monitor illegal fishing and provide alternative livelihoods to fisherfolk. The U.S. Department of State Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships, Concordia and Darden School of Business, awarded the TV White Space partnership with the 2015 Public-Private Partnerships Impact Award. The award recognizes the Public-Private Partnerships that are improving the world and society in innovative and impactful ways. Following the success of the TV White Space pilot, the Government of Philippines has taken the leadership role in replicating TV White Space in other locations of the country, to support its goal of providing wireless Internet access to 99 percent of its population.

Under a Public-Private Partnerships, USAID provides support to the Philippine National Police-Maritime Group in implementing an anonymous Short Message Service hotline that allows local communities to report illegal fishing. The hotline, 700DALOY, crowdsources the detection of illegal fishing and helps local government and maritime police better coordinate enforcement. Within a six-month pilot deployment in Tawi Tawi in 2015, more than 3,000 reports were received through 700DALOY, these led to 25 arrests and the recovery of fish worth more than $1 million.  The United Nations Environmental Program awarded the Philippine National Police-Maritime Group with the first Asia Environmental Enforcement Award for its achievements in conducting more than 1,500 operations against violation of fisheries and wildlife laws leading to the seizure of endangered aquatic species, 3,000 illegal fishing arrests and the collection of fines worth more than $3 million. USAID also provided support to the maritime police to scale up 700DALOY to seven more marine key biodiversity areas in the country. In September 2016, the Group launched the 700DALOY information management system to improve the collection, retrieval and analysis of maritime law violations. USAID will build the capacity of the Group to improve reporting protocols on maritime law infractions.

The National Stock Assessment Program is a key Government of Philippines program to monitor Philippine fisheries. USAID provided technical assistance to improve and standardize the program training curriculum, train new Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources field personnel on data collection in more than 250 Philippine fish landing sites, and enhance the Bureau’s competencies to analyze the information on the exploitation status of economically important fisheries. With USAID assistance, the Government of Philippines published a State of the Marine Resources Report in June 2016. The report helps improve the regulation of fisheries including actions to address IUU fishing.

U.S. National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Philippine Support Program (2014-2017)

In partnership with USAID, NOAA worksnull with the Government of Philippines to provide support for government-to-government scientific and technical exchange, capacity building, technical assistance, and peer-to peer exchanges to address IUU fishing including improved implementation of fisheries management plans and enhanced competencies in implementing marine park protection measures. With NOAA's assistance, the Government of Philippines will improve the use of fisheries management data and analysis and increase coordination among the government agencies involved in regulating fisheries and marine resources.

NOAA is assisting Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to improve its vessel monitoring system. With USAID support, NOAA is training the Bureau and other enforcement agencies in setting up and analyzing information on an Alert System for Boat Detection for municipal waters and seasonal closure of critical fisheries.

Philippines Biodiversity Program (2015-2020)

In partnership with the U.S. Department of the Interior’s International Technical Assistance Program, USAID will continue to support the Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resource’s 700 new fisheries law enforcement officers in enhancing their competencies on addressing IUU fishing. The new enforcers will be trained using the Fishery Law Enforcement Training module, incorporating the Fishery Law Enforcement Manual of Operations developed with assistance from the program. Continuing assistance will also be provided to the Bureau’s Fisheries Law Enforcement Management Information System, a system for tracking and managing maritime violations. The Bureau designed and developed the System with technical assistance from the program and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Law Enforcement Management Information System developers.

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s International Technical Assistance Program provides technical support to the task forces and interagency law enforcement groups to improve coordination across agencies and facilitate the investigation and prosecution of environmental crimes including those related to IUU fishing.

Protect Wildlife (2016-2021)

This new activity aims to conserve biodiversity in key protected areas in the Philippines and demonstrate the integration of conservation and development outcomes. The activity will achieve these dual objectives using a systems approach that involves capacity building and technical assistance, conservation finance and partnerships, behavior change, science and technology and environmental law enforcement.

The activity will address issues in illegal wildlife trade, illegal logging, and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing--all serious environmental crimes in the biodiversity hotspot. The activity represents USAID's support to U.S. Executive Order 13648—Combating Wildlife Trafficking and the U.S. Presidential Memorandum on the Comprehensive Framework to Combat Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing and Seafood Fraud as well as to Philippine programs on the same.

Additional Information