US to support PH in addressing illegal fishing, marine destruction in West PH Sea

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 22)— The United States vowed to "double up" efforts with the Philippines in addressing the multi-billion illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing and destruction of marine ecosystems in the West Philippine Sea.

US Embassy Chargé d'Affaires John Law said they are supporting various programs that would help the Philippines strengthen environmental sustainability, climate resilience, and fighting environmental crimes.

"There is no greater existential threat to the environment and livelihood of fisherfolk than the destruction of the rich ecosystem in the West Philippine Sea. The US shares Philippine concerns over IUU fishing and environmental destruction perpetrated in the Philippine waters," Law said in a virtual Earth Day roundtable on Thursday.

A study made by USAID and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources has revealed that illegal fishing in the Philippines costs ₱62 billion or $1.3 billion yearly.

"IUU fishing remains a top priority for the United States. Through USAID, we are stepping up our partnership with the Philippines to promote sustainable fishing practices and enhance the well-being of Filipinos dependent on this critical resource," Law added.

Law also assured the Philippines that the US government will help in strengthening the country's maritime domain awareness.

'Natural partner' in fighting climate change

Law described the Philippines as a natural partner in addressing climate change.

He said climate concerns will have a huge impact on US policies under the administration of President Joe Biden.

"Climate will shape US policy on national security, migration, international health efforts, economic diplomacy and trade talks," Law said.

"We regard the Philippines as natural partner for combatting climate change because as an archipelagic and disaster-prone nation, unchecked climate change could have serious impacts to this country and in its marine and territorial ecosystems," Law added.