Thursday, August 14, 2014

PCAF, BFAR spearhead nat’l forum on FIP Protocol for ASEAN

Through the collaboration of the PCAF and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquaculture (BFAR), the National Consultative Workshop on Fisheries Improvement Project (FIP) Protocol for the ASEAN Region was held last June 10 and 11, 2014 at the Rural Development and Education Center, Agricultural Training Institute Compound, Diliman, Quezon City.
Pooling together industry players from the government and private sectors, including non-government organizations (NGOs), civil society organizations, the academe, local government units, other line agencies, DA units, National and Regional Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council, Agricultural and Fishery Councils (AFCs), and other partners of the PCAF Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture (CFA), the PCAF and the BFAR spearheaded the workshop to develop a common position as input to the development of the  FIP protocol for the ASEAN Region.
“We also hope to create awareness and understanding among capture fisheries stakeholders on the relevance of FIP protocol to Philippine fisheries and encourage active participation among stakeholders in the FIP process,” PCAF-CFA Chairperson Arsenio Tanchuling said of the national consultative workshop with the theme “Improving Seafood Product Competitiveness and Realizing a Sustainable Philippine Fisheries.”
The United States Agency for International Development-Maximizing Agricultural Revenue through Knowledge, Enterprise Development and Trade (USAID-MARKET) Project is currently leading the discussions among stakeholders on the development of the FIP protocol and communicating the process, timeline, and expected results to buyers and NGOs.
The development of an FIP protocol for the ASEAN Region came about during the 1st Meeting of the ASEAN Public-Private Taskforce for Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture in 2013.
Corey Peet, USAID Consultant for the FIP Project, described the FIP as a new tool to generate improvements in fisheries recognized by international buyers. An FIP protocol, on the other hand, is a “defined set of guidelines describing a clear pathway to improvement and includes verification mechanisms.”

The scope of the protocol is to develop a tool to improve fisheries in ASEAN that is aligned to at least the most basic level of globally significant fisheries certification schemes such as the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Standard, while, at the same time, being achievable by an appropriate number of fisheries in the ASEAN Region.

The FIP protocol will define a process that will track the FIP’s progress against a series of benchmarks, namely, environmental and social. In April 2014, the first draft of the FIP protocol was developed by the Steering Committee comprised of representatives from Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines, as well as Australia and the USA.

To gather the inputs of Filipino stakeholders for the first draft of the FIP protocol, the participants of the said workshop were divided into two working groups to discuss the contents of the draft output matrices for Environmental and Social Benchmarks.
The Environmental Benchmarks aim to address environmental issues of biodiversity associated with by-catch, habitat impacts due to gear, fisheries management, as well as stock status and data collection, ecosystems and endangered, threatened species, and traceability of fisheries products. These covered prevention of overfishing, collection of fisheries information, fishing mortality, retained species information, and damage to the sea floor, among others.

The Social Benchmarks include Rights of Workers or Security and Safety of Workers, Rights of Communities where the group recommended interventions for Large Scale and Small Scale Operations in terms of minimum wage, payments/renumeration, insurance, working time/effort, safety at sea, zero tolerance for abuse of fishers, child labor, hazardous work for young workers, livelihood program, and vessel licensing, among others.

According to Peet, all comments and recommendations during the workshops will be consolidated with the comments and recommendations from the public meetings held in other ASEAN countries and will be shared with the Steering Committee for its consideration in developing the second draft.
The second draft is expected to be released for a 60-day public comment period on August 1 of this year, from which comments will be generated for the third draft of the document. The third draft will then undergo field testing in October of this year until January 2015.
Meanwhile, the workshop participants also adopted two resolutions recommending the participation of permanent representatives from the Philippine government to the ASEAN Public-Private Informal Taskforce for Sustainable Fisheries Sector and the creation of a Technical Working Group to discuss commodity-specific issues and management interventions.

DA Undersecretary for Operations Emerson Palad graced the event in behalf of Secretary Proceso Alcala and conveyed the latter’s message to the attendees, which highlighted the Department’s thrust to push forth a sustainable and inclusive agricultural growth that benefits smallholder farmers and fishers.


Post a Comment