Philippines can learn from New Zealand’s fishery experience

It is a challenge for the Philippines to monitor its marine territory to fend off encroaching foreign fishermen but it could learn from the practices of other countries concerning their respective fishery sectors. During a press conference in Iloilo City over the weekend, Anthony Nowell, representative to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Policy Partnership on Food Security (PPFS), said his country, New Zealand, has the fourth largest fishery sector in the world.

Being an island nation, New Zealand has a long coastline along its southern part, he said.

Twenty-five years ago, New Zealand, like the Philippines, faced fishery problems with the encroachment of Taiwanese fishing vessels on its territory, Nowell said, noting that since New Zealand is a small nation, it does not have a big navy.

To address the concern, he said, New Zealand put an economic limit to its coastlines to secure them. “What we did was we invested in aircraft… always in the air monitoring who is fishing around the country,” he said.

“And mostly, we put in place a very strong fishery management system. It covers 105 species in New Zealand. Fishing companies or fishing folks have to actually register, we have to keep good records. That has been very effective.”

Nowell observed that in the case of the Philippines, the situation is very challenging. The country has hundreds of thousands of fisher folks and its government must think of a program management system so that everyone could have an equal and fair share of the fish catch and not deplete the ocean, he said.

“And you’ve got to have tough negotiations in international fora with other countries to make sure that they stay outside your economic limit,” Nowell said.

Although APEC officials met here to address fishery issues, Philippine fishery authorities said they did not discuss issues on the encroachment of foreign vessels on the country’s fishing grounds, especially in contested territories. They said the dialogues in APEC tackle purely economic issues and avoid delving into political matters.