By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
The Philippines and the United States have committed to work together for the enhancement of efforts on sustainable fisheries and marine biodiversity to improve the lives of people and the health of coasts and oceans.
Agriculture Undersecretary and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) director Eduardo Gongona, and Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) director Theresa Mundita Lim led a Philippine delegation of eight technical officers in a learning exchange with their counterparts from the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)-Pacific Islands on ecosystem-based fisheries management.
The peer exchange was an opportunity to share the country’s experiences on fisheries and coastal and marine management, particularly on the governance, science and enforcement aspects.
The two Philippine bureaus highlighted the common objective of ensuring healthy and resilient fisheries and marine biodiversity for food security and socio-economic benefits.
Meanwhile, NOAA emphasized the importance of science supporting evidence-based management from integrated ecosystem assessments to oceanographic modeling.
The Philippine delegation interacted and exchanged learning with scientists, managers and enforcement officers from the NOAA-Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, Pacific Islands Regional Office, and Office of Law Enforcement.
The exchange provided valuable insights to BFAR as it accelerates an ecosystems approach to fisheries management and steps up its measures against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, and to BMB as it advances integrated coastal and marine management.
A highlight of the exchange is the expression of BFAR and BMB to move forward with their enhanced convergence on fisheries and marine conservation, as they signed a “Declaration of Commitment and Action Plan for the Management of Shared Resources.”
The peer exchange held from June 26 to30 in Honolulu, Hawaii is part of the ongoing government-to-government scientific and technical partnership on sustainable fisheries and marine biodiversity toward improving the lives of the people and the health of the coasts and oceans, that the United States Agency for International Development or USAID supports since 2014.