BFAR to install trackers on fishing vessels to monitor sea activity

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The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources said Monday each of the 5,000 big commercial fishing boats will have a monitoring device which would also act as a wireless communication device by year-end.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 8) — The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said Monday it will begin installing trackers on big commercial fishing vessels by year-end for real-time monitoring of fishing activities in Philippine waters.

BFAR Assistant Director for Administrative Services Sammy Malvas said Monday each of the 5,000 big commercial fishing boats will have a monitoring device called transponders, which would also act as wireless communication devices.

Unlike the existing system which experiences hours of delay, transponders would allow officials to monitor each of the vessels' real-time location and volume of catch. This would help them check if a vessel is operating with a valid license.

"Integrated itong system so lahat ng [all of the] systems will be housed in one huge vessel monitoring system so andyan [there would be] tracking, makikita ang licenses kung [you can check the licenses if they are] valid or existing, or fishing permits especially for vessels operating outside Philippine waters, sa high seas," Malvas said. "(This) will tell you where the vessels are and what are they doing there and we can receive reports on the volume of catch or activity and what are they doing in these areas.:

Fishermen may also send immediate distress signal to authorities.

The whole integrated marine environment monitoring system project began last year. A United Kingdom-based contractor is currently manufacturing the transponders.

Malvas said the project has a ₱2-billion budget under the General Appropriations Act. This will be implemented in the next four years.

After the commercial fishing vessels, the government will also put trackers on around 300,000 small-scale fishing boats.

Malvas said aside from monitoring the vessels, there is a huge need to improve the agencies in-charge of marine environment's response capability.

Amendments to the Fisheries Code of the Philippines have required vessel monitoring systems for all commercial fishing vessels, in order to curb illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing activity.