While at the height of Social Reform Agenda (SRA) implementation where the government actively pushed for the equal access to development opportunities in addressing the long-standing problem of poverty among other related issues including that of the environment, on 25 February 1998 President Fidel V. Ramos signed into law Republic Act No. 8550 entitled, “An Act Providing for the Development, Management and Conservation of the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Integrating All Laws Pertinent Thereto and for Other Purposes,” otherwise known as the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998 which took effect on 23 March 1998.
The enactment of the Philippine Fisheries Code was a welcome breakthrough and considered a major milestone as this law provides for the reconstitution of BFAR as a line bureau under the Department of Agriculture and created the position of Undersecretary for Fisheries, thereby strengthening the services of the organization for the fishing industry. It also enabled the agency to build strong government and private sector partnership, mainly with the fisherfolk sector through the institutionalization of the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Councils or FARMCs at the national and local level.
Under the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, the BFAR is headed by a National Director and assisted by two Assistant Directors who supervise the administrative and technical services of the bureau respectively. Furthermore, the said law was instrumental in the establishment of regional and provincial offices to carry out efficiently and effectively its provisions.