Putting monitoring systems in fishing vessels voluntary – BFAR
MANILA, Philippines — The installation of a vessel monitoring system (VMS) and AN electronic reporting system (ERS) for commercial Philippine-flagged fishing vessels will now be voluntary, according to Michael Andayog, the officer in charge of the Fisheries Regulatory and Licensing Division of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR)
The issue was tackled on Tuesdays during the virtual consultative meeting with the industry’s stakeholders.
“We are aiming for voluntary compliance by the commercial vessel. We are tentatively, we have a possible schedule for installation of VMS,” Andayog said, speaking in a mix of English and Filipino.
“So, more or less voluntary. We are not saying that it’s mandatory or imposing this requirement as of now. But this is, if there are concerns, we are taking note of that, and we are welcoming whatever [proposals] will work. We are also exploring other possible ways to improve the system [in] relation to the detection and monitoring through the vessel monitoring system,” he added.
The decision was made after some commercial fishing companies, through a petition, urged the Malabon City Regional Trial Court to cite BFAR and the National Telecommunications Commission for indirect contempt for allegedly defying a court order prohibiting them from implementing Fisheries Administrative Order No. 266.
The order required the installation of VMS-100 transceivers in all commercial fishing vessels operating in domestic waters, in the high seas, and other distant waters.
Presiding Judge Zaldy Docena of Malabon City RTC Branch 170 previously declared the BFAR order as null and void for being unconstitutional.
The order was said to have been issued to fight illegal fishing. But commercial fishing companies said that the information to be recorded and reported — such as the position of the vessel where the fish was caught, the date and time of vessel activity — were sensitive information and part of their trade secrets and proprietary information.
“The recording and reporting of petitioners’ trade secrets not only violate their privacy but also expose them to suffer tremendous losses,” the petitioners stressed.
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