PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law creating a professional regulatory board of fisheries in a bid to "professionalize the practice of the fisheries profession in the Philippines."
Republic Act (RA) 11398, which the President signed on August 22, highlights that developing the fisheries profession is a step forward "to sustain the food security and economic development of the country."
"Pursuant to this national policy, the government shall provide a program to set up an appropriate and healthy environment for the practice of fisheries profession; and establish quality standards for fisheries professionals," the law reads.
Three other laws establishing fisheries centers were also signed.
RA 11397 establishes a provincial fisheries and aquatic resources training, development, and product center in Aklan province.
RA 11400 creates a fisheries research center in Abulug, Cagayan.
Another law, RA 11401 establishes a freshwater multispecies hatchery and research center in Balo-i in Lanao del Norte province.
The three centers will be under the supervision of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.
The Professional Regulatory Board of Fisheries will be created 90 days after the law's effectivity and will operate under the administrative supervision and control of the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC).
The board will be composed of a chairperson and four members who will hold office for three years and may be appointed for a second term.
The chairperson and members of the board will receive compensation and allowances received by the chairperson and members of other Professional Regulatory Boards.
The board is tasked to issue rules and regulations on the implementation of the law; supervise the licensure examination for admission to the practice of the fisheries profession; and regulate the licensure, registration and practice of the profession.
The examination for fisheries professionals should cover the fields of aquatic resources and ecology, aquaculture, capture fisheries, and post-harvest fisheries.
"The Board may also re-cluster, rearrange, modify, add, or exclude any of the foregoing subjects as the need arises and may recommend to the Ched (Commission on HIgher Education) changes in said subjects to conform to modern and advanced technologies in the fisheries profession," RA 11398 said.
"To pass the licensure examination for fisheries professionals, a candidate must obtain a weighted general average rating of at least 75 percent and with no grade lower than 60 percent," it added.
The law also mandates the regulatory body to administer the oath of a professional to the passers of liensure examination for fisheries and issue their certificates of registration.
The Professional Regulatory Board of Fisheries also has the power to suspend or revoke the certificate of registration and professional identification card of a fisheries professional.
It is also mandated to adopt its official seal and a seal of fisheries professionals, promulgate a Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice for Fisheries Professionals, and look into the conditions affecting the practice of the fisheries profession.
The board should also ensure that all educational institutions offering courses in fisheries education comply with the policies, standards and requirements of the course prescribed by the Ched.
It is also designated to prepare, adopt, and issue, in consultation with the academe, the syllabi or tables of specification of the subjects for the licensure examinations.
It also has the authority also hear, try and decide administrative cases involving violations of the RA 11398.
The board is mandated to submit to the PRC an annual report on its proceedings and accomplishments during the year, as well as recommendations for the adoption of measures that will upgrade the conditions of fisheries profession in the country.
The President, upon the recommendation of the Commission, may remove any member of the Board for "negligence; incompetence; immoral, dishonorable or unprofessional conduct; violation of, or abetting the violation of, the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice for Fisheries Professionals; and conviction in a final judgment of a crime involving moral turpitude."
RAs 11397 and 11398 were made public on Wednesday, August 28, while RAs 11400 and 11401 were released on Thursday, August 29. (SunStar Philippines)