New Requirements for Commercial Fishing

By Patricia Bianca S. Taculao

Municipal waters, which were defined in the last article are waters located within the municipality but are not limited to streams, lakes, and inland bodies of water.

In compliance with Republic Act 10654, which amended RA 8550 or the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, municipal fisherfolk or those who reside along the municipal coast and are registered in the government are given exclusive use of the resources in the city’s waters.

Commercial fishing vessels (CFVs), on the other hand, are only permitted if the boat is small to medium in size, and approved a license by the city government. CFVs are only given an area of 10.1 to 15 kilometers from the shoreline to fish. 

While fisherfolk are given access to municipal waters, commercial fishing vessels have to acquire certain requirements before it starts operating in the municipal waters and beyond.

To further limit the extraction of fish and other marine produce, R.A. 10654 presented new requirements for commercial fishing.

What’s New

Since CFVs have been given limited access to municipal waters, they are required to keep a daily record of  the several information such as

  1. Fish catch and spoilage,
  2. Where the boat made a landing point,
  3. Quantity and value of fish caught, and
  4. Fish off-loaded for transhipment, sale or disposal.

All this must be certified by the vessel’s captain prior to submission to the Department of Agriculture – Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

This process is called a Catch Documentation System (CDS). Self-sustaining fishers are exempted from the CDS.

Distant Water Fishing

Aside from the certification given by the local government units to CFVs, the DA-BFAR shall issue qualified vessels the necessary licenses which allow them to engage in commercial fishing in areas beyond municipal waters.

But similar to fishing within municipal waters, registered fishing vessels in the country are also expected to comply to the requirements concerning distant water fishing. Below are the said requirements:

  1. Follow safety, manning, and other requirements of the Philippine Coast Guard, Maritime Industry Authority, and other agencies concerned.
  2. Must have a fishing permit, gear license, along with the other clearances from the DA.
  3. Requirements regarding monitoring, control, and surveillance should be strictly complied along with conservation and management measures, and fishing access conditions issued by the DA, the Regional fisheries management organisations (RMFO), or other coastal states.

Despite the heavy regulations set by the authorities, fish caught by fishing vessels listed in the Philippine registry beyond municipal waters are not subject to import duties or tax since these are considered to be caught in Philippine waters.

But in the process of transhipment beyond national jurisdiction, or the shipment of goods to different destinations, the vessels are required a transhipment authorization issued by the DA-BFAR.

Renewing Licenses

Since these licenses are necessary for operation, it has to be kept updated to continue fishing. Renewal of the Commercial Fishing Vessel License  (CVFL) also has a series of guidelines.

  1. Prior to expiry of the CFVL, the licensees must go to DA-BFAR Regional Office for license renewal and to request for inspection of the fishing vessel.
  2. Upon receipt of the Inspection Report, licensees must file the requirements for renewal and pay the license fees as well.
  3. DA-BFAR Regional Office must evaluate the application for renewal.
  4. Those licensees who have not renewed their CFVL within 6 days before its expiration may still apply for renewal.

These requirements apply to all commercial fishing vessels but exempt skiffs which are shallow, flat-bottomed open boats with a sharp bow and square stern.

New Offenses and Their Penalties

Also included in RA 10654 are new offenses that commercial fishing vessels should watch out for since these provisions offer a more strict penalty than the original found in RA 8550. Here are some of the violations that were amended.

  1. Engaging in Unauthorized Fishing Activities
    This pertains to exploiting or breeding of aquatic resources and constructing as well as operating fish corrals, pens, cages, or fishponds without a license, lease or permit.

Administrative Penalty Criminal Penalty
Fine of P500,000 to P1 million 6 months suspension
Abolishment of the structure at the expense of the offender Fine twice the amount of the administrative fine
Rehabilitation of the affected area Abolishment of the structure
Confiscation of stocks Rehabilitation of the affected area
Confiscation of stocks

 

  1. Engaging in Distant Water Fishing Without a Permit
    This includes fishing in the high seas, territorial seas, archipelagic waters, and Exclusive Economic Zones of other states while flagged as a Philippine fishing vessel without a fishing permit from the DA as well as authorization from the coastal state.

    The owner, operator, and the three highest officers of the vessel are liable for the offense.

Administrative Penalty Criminal Penalty
Confiscation of catch and gear 6 months suspension
Fine of 5 times the value of the catch or the amounts below, depends on which is higher:

  • 2 to 9 million for small-scale CFVs
  • 10 to 15 million for medium-scale CFVs
  • 16 to 45 for large-scale CFVs
Fine twice the amount of the administrative fine
Confiscation of catch and gear

 

  1. Unreported Fishing
    Failure to provide a catch documentation report or misreport about the vessel’s information and whereabouts.
Administrative Penalty Criminal Penalty
Fine of 5 times the value of the catch or the amounts below, depends on which is higher: 6 months suspension
Abolishment of the structure at the expense of the offender Fine twice the amount of the administrative fine
Rehabilitation of the affected area Abolishment of the structure
Confiscation of stocks Rehabilitation of the affected area
Confiscation of stocks

The owner, operator, and the three highest officers of the vessel are liable for the offense.

The other offenses and penalties will be discussed in the next article about the laws that govern the country’s waters along with the explanation of what a Regional Fishing Management Organization (RFMO) is.