PHL adopts universal fishing treaty

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/04 October)–Conservation efforts for highly migratory fish stocks pushed by various tuna industry stakeholders here got a boost after the Philippine government finally adopted a universal fishing treaty that will take effect this month.

Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said in a statement on Thursday he recently deposited to the United Nations the Philippines’ instrument of ratification of the Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks.

He submitted it to UN Undersecretary-General for Legal Affairs Miguel de Serpa Soares.

The Fish Stocks Agreement, as the treaty is more universally known, outlines principles for the conservation and management of those fish stocks and establishes that such management must be based on the precautionary approach and the best available scientific information.

It also elaborates on the fundamental principle established in UNCLOS that States should cooperate to ensure conservation and promote the objective of the optimum utilization of fisheries resources both within and beyond the exclusive economic zone.

Over 80 countries are currently State Parties to the agreement.

The agreement shall enter into force for the Philippines on October 24, Del Rosario said.

This city, as the “Tuna Capital of the Philippines,” has been pushing for conservation measures both in domestic and international waters to protect and ensure the sustainability of the tuna industry that primarily triggered its economic growth.

Six of the country’s tuna canneries are based here as well as fishing companies and other allied industries that provide livelihood to tens of thousands of people.

Mayor Ronnel Rivera stressed the need for conservation measures on tuna, a highly migratory fish species, due to the declining stocks.

“We must share efforts, time, resources and responsibilities in finding solutions to this globally threatening trend,” the mayor said.

He noted that “unlike in the past, we now have come into terms that the regime of unabated exploitation of the richness and bounties of the ocean is no longer tenable.”

Rivera said that over the years, countries throughout the world and the Pacific have contributed to the decline of yellowfin and big eye tuna stocks.

He blamed climate change and destructive, irresponsible and unregulated fishing practices to the decline in tuna stocks.

Rivera urged fishing nations to share responsibilities and resources “to ensure that that future generations will continue to enjoy and eat tuna instead of going to the museum to visualize what live or even freshly caught tuna looked like.”

“We have to share responsibilities to ensure the survival of the tuna industry throughout the world,” he said. (Bong S Sarmiento/MindaNews)