MINDANAO Development Authority (Minda) deputy executive director Romeo Montenegro urges the use of non-conventional sized ship (NCSS) to participate in the barter trade activities in Mindanao.

“With regards to the revival of the barter trade in Mindanao, the BIMP-Eaga (Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area) has been pushing for the recognition of the NCSS. Remember when we are looking at barter trading, these are trading of small items, and small-volume commodities loaded through wooden vessels weighing less than 5,000 tonnage,” Montenegro said.

Montenegro added that these wooden vessels are being prohibited from trading due to international maritime laws.

“But because of the International Maritime Organization standards as of January last year, there should no longer be any wooden vessels allowed to traverse in international waters,” Montenegro said, adding that the standards include only steel-made ships to sail along international waters.

“The problem, however, is we cannot expect the small traders to buy or have steel vessels because they are really very small. And in terms of distance within a matter of hours in the trading region, it is illogical to have steel vessels because the entire route for few hours can be traversed by wooden vessels,” he added.

The Minda official continues to advocate in encouraging neighboring countries of the Philippines to also support this call in recognizing NCSS.

“Finally, last year November, not just BIMP-Eaga but the Asean had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on safety and standards and the inspection of the NCSS. So meaning to say, the ten countries still recognize the wooden vessel as a means of transport in this short-distance region,” Montenegro said.

It can be recalled last October 2018 the Executive Order 64 or the Reviving Barter in Mindanao was signed in the aim to promote growth and development among Mindanaoan seafarers.