Handline tuna fishing law still without IRR-A A +A
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
GENERAL SANTOS CITY -- Three years after the handline fishing law was passed, its implementing rules and regulations have not yet been finalized to help the further growth of this sector of the local tuna industry with an estimated annual value of P4.5 billion three years ago.
Marfenio Y. Tan, president of the Socsksargen Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries, Inc., said recently that handline tuna players are lamenting the lack of IRR to foster the sector, which produces sashimi-grade tuna in demand in the markets of Japan and the United States.
Handline fishing employs the traditional hook-and-line method in catching large mature tuna and marlin species marketed abroad in whole fresh or chilled form.
"There is an urgent need to fast-track the issuance of IRR of Republic Act 9379 as the tuna handline industry is faced with several other regulations such as catch documentation," Tan said.
Without an IRR, the purpose of simplifying the policies, regulations, procedures and requirements, among others, of the handline fishing has not been met, he added.
The Handline law requires the Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and the Department of Transportation and Communications' National Telecommunications Commission and the Maritime Industry Authority to promulgate simplified policies and procedures governing the handline fishing, in consultation with industry stakeholders.
Tan said the handline fishing players are urging the concerned government agencies to schedule the final consultation in this city, the center of the country's tuna production, for the IRR of the law so it will finally be implemented.
Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed on March 8, 2007 RA 9379, or "An Act Defining Hand-line Fishing, Providing Effective Regulations Therefore and for Other Purposes."
Lobbying for a special law on handline fishing had been going on for about three years, spearheaded by the Alliance of Tuna Hand-liners here, until Arroyo signed it.
The alliance then described the approval of the hand-line fishing law as "a victory for the handline tuna fishermen."
A senior official from the alliance who requested anonymity said on Monday that BFAR and NTC have agreed to a simplified IRR under RA 9379 but not the Marina.
Marina insisted that boat captains and crews of handline fishing boats shall have the necessary educational degrees to operate a vessel, one which many handline fishermen could not acquire due to financial constraints, the source said.
Efforts to reach Marina officials proved futile.
Prior to the law's approval, handline fishing players lamented that hand-line pump boats are in the same category with big commercial fishing vessels.
They said the handline law is significant because it also seeks to give weight to traditional fishing practices and small fishermen by defining hand-line commercial fishing boat and commercial net fishing vessel.
Three years ago, the alliance is composed of over 2,500 large pump boats that employ at least 40,000 fishermen, with an annual landing catch of over 30,000 metric tons of high- value tuna worth P4.5 billion, industry records had showed.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on September 22, 2010.