The Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) clarifies that the installation of the vessel monitoring system (VMS) and electronic reporting system (ERS) for commercial Philippine-flagged fishing vessels, as provided for under Section 119 of the Fisheries Code (RA No. 8550) remains mandatory.

There have been news reports citing statements made by a DA-BFAR official during a consultative meeting with stakeholders from the commercial fishing industry stating that the requirement is now voluntary. We clarify, however, that these statements do not represent the full context under which they were given. During the consultation, the said official merely encouraged the commercial fishing vessel operators to submit themselves voluntarily for the installation to avoid the imposition of temporary suspension of fishing vessel license, as preventive measures, to non-complying operators in violation of law. We maintain that, unless amended, the requirement for the installation of VMS and ERS remains in effect and compliance with its provisions is mandatory.

The DA-BFAR, through the Office of the Solicitor General, has already filed a Petition for Review before the Supreme Court questioning the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Malabon City which declared FAO 266 as null and void for being unconstitutional.

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