NEWLY-DEVELOPED FISHERIES CATCH DOCUMENTATION SYSTEM SET TO IMPROVE PH’S SUSTAINABLE RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
The Philippine government’s fight against illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUUF) and sustainable management of the country’s waters will soon become more effective with the newly-developed electronic catch documentation and traceability (e-CDT) system.
A partnership project of the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, the USAID Oceans and Fisheries Partnership (USAID Oceans) and the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC), the e-CDT system will document key information about harvest, processing and transportation of fisheries products to enable traceability from harvest and point of origin to its destination – a process that eliminates the chances of IUU fishing and illegally–caught fish from entering the market.
“I also understand that this five-year learning, experimenting and piloting and the good lessons that we have achieved with the USAID here, nurturing this project with us and with BFAR having been deeply engaged, having been deeply involved by now, it’s all here in our hearts and minds, and it is now time to institutionalize these learnings, these experiences,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said.
Secretary Dar, whose Eight Paradigms for the New Thinking of Agriculture has become the guidance for agri-fishery programs, added that this new learning and approach is very significant in terms of increasing productivity and at the same time, sustaining ecosystems in various areas.
While eCDTS is potentially eyed to curb and eliminate IUUF in the country, its wide-ranging use particularly as a tool in sustainably managing the Philippines’ vast marine and fisheries resources is anticipated. With the establishment of Fisheries Management Areas (FMA), DA-BFAR sets its sight on scaling up the implementation of eCDTS from the project’s pilot site in General Santos City, adopting most of its components while tailor-fitting the system to the area’s fisheries profile. Data is keyed into the system and processed into information that can be used to establish management measures not only for fisheries conservation but also for increasing production.
eCDTS PROJECT CLOSEOUT
Five years since the project took off, the USAID Oceans partnership is nearly ending. In a two-day event on February 4 and 5, which took place both at the DA-BFAR MCS Station and Fishing Technology Laboratory in Navotas City, which houses the eCDT databases and Sequoia Hotel in Quezon City where the formal program closeout is held, USAID Oceans turns over the program initiatives to the Philippines to carry forward.
“The closeout event marks the end of the USAID Oceans’ work in the Philippines and the transition of program initiatives and ongoing efforts to achieve shared objectives to our capable regional and local partners. This event is an opportunity for us to share lessons learned over the past five years related to improving sustainable management of fisheries, developing and implementing eCDT technologies, advancing human welfare and gender equity, and establishing strong partnerships to achieve a common goals,” said Mr. John Parks, USAID Oceans Chief of Party, during the closeout event.
The USAID Oceans Partnership, while inevitably concluding, sees a continued need to manage and conserve Southeast Asia’s fisheries through collecting and using data to guide management efforts.
“In addition to providing an integrated platform to visualize and access existing catch documentation and traceability systems, including BFAR’s national eCDT system, these centers will be foundational for analyzing eCDT data and using those data to guide sustainable fisheries management practices,” he said.
For the Philippine government’s part, Secretary Dar thanked the USAID Oceans and its local partners for spearheading the project. The Agriculture Chief also expresses confidence to BFAR to raise the country’s fisheries productivity.
“Everyone understands that the sector contributes 18% to 19% to the gross value added in agriculture which is such a very substantial contribution. With all these technologies, we can enlarge, scale up, and unlock the potential of this sector so that the 18% can become 25% to 30%,” he said.