Knowing What We Eat!

By Ramya Honnegowda

In recent years the popularity of seafood has grown among consumers due to its health benefits. Nevertheless, due to overfishing and environmental diminution the dependency on farmed raised fishes has amplified. However, when consuming farm-raised fish, consumers may not be conscious that with every bite they are getting a dose of antibiotics, hormones, pesticides and/or other chemicals which known to cause cancer or other harmful effects on human health.  As intake of farm-raised fish grows, consumers need to be aware of the risk involved with eating it and feeding it to their children, who are eating the drugs, chemicals and contaminants found in aquaculture products.

Most of the Countries have enacted Rules and Regulations that are primarily responsible for ensuring that both domestic and imported seafood is safe for consumers. Fish feed regulations is deliberated to be important as it keeps the entire society healthy. The primary purpose of feed regulation is to make sure that the fish feed is:

  • Pure and wholesome
  • Produced under clean conditions
  • Free of harmful substances
  • Labeled appropriately and truthfully

As a case study, I have briefly enumerated the Feed Regulations in California for a better understanding of what essentially is feed regulation:

State of California

calif

Rich in agriculture, California’s Department of Food & Agriculture (CDFA) is tasked with shaping, implementing, and enforcing feed regulations in the state.  “The amount of animal feed commodities used in California has increased substantially over the past decade, making California the largest manufacturer of animal feed in the U.S.”[1] CDFA’s Safe Animal Feed Education Program (SAFE) conducts outreach, education, and voluntary feed quality assurance audits for manufacturers of commercial feed.  Because the number of on-farm feed production has risen in the state, SAFE also targets efforts towards these producers of feed.

The relevant code sections dealing with Commercial Feed are enumerated under Chapter 6 of California’s Food & Agriculture Code (the Code).  The Code establishes a Feed Inspection Advisory Board under Article 4, generally responsible for serving the industry for the benefit of consumers.  The Code specifies the regulations for licensing, labeling, standards and tolerances, inspections and analyses, mislabeling, adulteration, inspection tonnage tax, violations, procedure for prosecution, and complaints.

Analogous to the California law, is the California Code of Regulations (Plant Industry), under Title 3 from Section 2675 to 2803. This part of the Code goes into the specifics on what is permitted and prohibited in commercial animal feed. It also provides the definitions relating to feed and the precise limits for various chemicals, minerals, and other substances added to, and/or present, in feed. It is important to note that when analyzing California’s commercial animal feed regulations, reference must be made to both the Food & Agriculture Code and the California Code of Regulations (Title 3)[2].

Labeling:

 labeling 

With some exceptions, “every lot, parcel, or package of commercial feed distributed within this state shall have affixed to it, or be accompanied by, a label.”[3]   Contents of the label must include “legible and plainly printed statement which certifies all of the following:

(a) The net weight or volume of the contents of the lot or parcel unless accompanied by a certified certificate of weights and measures.

(b) The product name, brand name, or trademark.

(c) The name and principal address of the manufacturer or person that is responsible for placing the commodity on the market.

(d) The guaranteed analysis stated in such terms as the secretary specifies by regulation.

(e) The recognized official name, as specified by the secretary, of each ingredient. The secretary may by regulation permit the use of a collective term for a group of ingredients which performs a similar function. The secretary may exempt a commercial feed, or any combination of commercial feeds from labeling requirements if he finds the listing is not necessary to comply with the intent of this chapter.

(f) Adequate directions, warnings and caution statements that may be necessary for the safe use of any feed.”[4]

There are also code sections covering labeling feed mixes, claims of guarantees on labels, and exemptions from labeling for feed produced or distributed at a location under the same ownership as the manufacturer.[5]   In the corresponding section of the California Code of Regulations (Title 3), the remainder of laws on commercial feed labeling range from section 2683 to 2698 and provide the details on all of the label laws only briefly discussed in the Food & Agriculture Code.  Two notable sections provide the special labeling rules pertaining to feeds containing drugs or medications[6] and for drug and food additive guarantees.[7]

Inspection and Analysis:

California law mandates inspections, at reasonable times, for all aspects of the commercial feed industry and gives inspectors the right to take samples and conduct analysis.[8]   Other rules for inspections include requiring government reports of their results. The results are to be provided to the relevant parties and the law prohibits the use of government analysis or reports in advertising the product (feed).[9]

Mislabeling, Misbranding, Adulteration, and Damaged Feed:

Commercial feed is deemed mislabeled if any of the following are found:

(a) Its labeling is false or misleading in any particular.

(b) It is not labeled as required by this chapter.

(c) Any word, statement, or other information required pursuant to this chapter to appear on the label is not prominently placed thereon with such conspicuousness, as compared with other words, statements, designs, or devices in the labeling and in such terms as to render it likely to be read and understood under customary conditions of purchase and use.[10]

Misbranding is when a product is labeled as a different brand than it really is or if it purports to contain some ingredient(s) that it does not.[11]   California also prohibits misleading advertising[12] and has detailed rules on adulteration.[13]  Feed is damaged and deemed adulterated and unlawful for sale if “it or any ingredient has been affected by smoke, heat, water, mold, or contamination by any foreign substance to such an extent as to affect the nutritive value, therapeutic value, palatability, or wholesomeness of the feed.”[14]   The code goes on to require notifying authorities when the product may be damaged and holding sales until the State tests samples and approves further sale or orders the product destroyed.[15]

Licensing:

CDFA’s Feed, Fertilizer, and Livestock Drugs Regulatory Services Branch issues licenses for commercial feed and offers guidance to the industry on complying with the requirements.  The current commercial feed license has an annual cost of $300.00[16] and includes an exemption for retail stores selling bagged or packaged commercial feed, which must be properly labeled by a licensed feed manufacturer.[17]  In the corresponding licensing section of the Code of Agriculture, another exemption to the commercial license requirement is for a “person who manufactures commercial feed exclusively for feeding his or her own animals.”[18]

There are also special licenses set forth in their respective sections under the Code of Regulations.  For example, in the code section titled Processed Animal Waste Products, there are additional licensing requirements, including requiring the submission of a complete description of the facilities involved and protocols observed by the license applicant.[19]   The authorities then review the application, determine whether to endorse the facility, and even if they approve a license, the government retains the right to summarily suspend it if they find the procedures are not being followed or if pathogens may be present in the product.[20]

Residues, Medicated Feed, Food Additives, and Harmful Substances:

The Code of Regulations provides the definitions and details of various ingredients commonly found in feed, from plant products to marine products to animal products, as well as discusses different indigestible residues and their limits or rules within the commercial feed context.[21]   With regards to medicated feed, it is unlawful to use such feed except in compliance with the directions on the tag or label.[22]   The safety and efficacy of medications and additives are discussed in the Code of Regulations, incorporating federal statutes pertaining to rules on drugs in food.[23]   Lastly, the law reserves the right of the secretary of state to “require the percentage listing of any material which he finds to be of minimal nutritional value.”[24]

California also prohibits the use or sale of poisonous or deleterious substances, including anything that “may impair the health of the animal being fed or result in an illegal or harmful residue or constituent in or on human food.”[25]   The code section on pesticide residue in commercial feed incorporates federal regulations.[26]

The seafood consumed could be made much safer if:

  •  The regulatory organizations were to follow the best practices in complying with the statutory requirements. The regulatory organization of every country works towards tightening standards reduce the use of antibiotics in aquaculture by withholding new approvals of antibiotics for such us.
  • Consumers can also act to ensure that they are purchasing the healthiest seafood for themselves and their families. They should also look for the labels to guarantee and distinguish between farmed raised or wild fish. Request the local markets to carry seafood that does not contain antibiotics.

[1] California Department of Food & Agriculture, SAFE Website Homepage: http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/is/ffldrs/safe.html

[2]Reference Note:  A link to a .pdf version of both sections can be found at the California DFA website (under the heading, “Feed, Fertilizer, Livestock Drugs” and under the link, “Feed Laws and Regulations”). Available at http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/is/regulations.html

[3] Cal. Food & Agric. Code §14991

[4] Cal. Food & Agric. Code §14992

[5] Id. at §14993-14996.

[6] Cal. Code Regs. tit. 3, §2701

[7] Cal. Code Regs. tit. 3, §2702

[8] Cal. Food & Agric. Code §15021

[9] Cal. Code Regs. tit. 3, §2717 – § 2719

[10]Cal. Food & Agric. Code §15031

[11] Cal. Code Regs. tit. 3, § 2733

[12] Cal. Code Regs. tit. 3, §2712

[13] Cal. Food & Agric. Code §15041

[14] Cal. Code Regs. tit. 3, §2760(a)

[15] Id at § 2760(b-e)

[16] Id at § 2751(b)

[17] Id at § 2751(a)

[18] Cal. Food & Agric. Code §15051(c)(2)

[19] Cal. Code Regs. tit. 3, § 2774.5

[20] Id at §2774.5(a)(2)

[21] For example see, Id at §22774, §2788 and §2790

[22] Id at § 2766

[23] Id, at§2676

[24] Id, at§2706

[25] Cal. Code Regs. tit. 3, at §2677

[26] Id, at§2678

Guest Post: The Sea Gypsies of the Philippines – Friend or Foe of Fisheries Conservation

While visiting Anilao to visit the marine protected areas, I had my first encounter with a tribal group called ‘Badjaos’. In Anilao you often see them walking the beach selling pearls but I quickly learned their history is much more. As a local volunteer, who has opted to share this thought anonymously, later explained their connection with the sea could make them a useful partner in the conservation of the seas.

WANDERING SOULS OF THE SOUTHERN LAUT

I was only eleven but I could still vividly remember these young boys treading in deep water next to our lantsa (boat) which was docked at the Port of Virac in my parents’ home province of Catanduanes. While waiting to voyage, passengers onboard threw coins into the water and these young boys would deftly dive to collect the coins before they could sink to the bottom. “They are Badjaos from Mindanao.”, explained Papa. I also remembered a scene in a ‘70s black and white movie wherein a new-born baby was ritualistically thrown into the sea by his Badjao father. I was amazed. Three decades later, I would encounter them again, this time in Anilao, Batangas.

The Badjaos, known as Sama or Samal, are a Muslim indigenous ethnic group traditionally from the Sulu Archipelago in the Philippines, the coastal areas of Mindanao and northern Borneo. For centuries, they lived a nomadic, seaborne lifestyle; living in small wooden sailing vessels called perahu , lepa-lepa and vinta. Badjao groups blended culturally with their land-settled cousins – the Sama groups, into what is now known as the Sama–Badjao people. However, these distinctions are fast fading as majority of the Badjaos have abandoned their way of life and now live in Sama–style piling houses in the coastal shallows.(1)

Interestingly, the “Sea Gypsies” do not call themselves Badjao but by the names of their tribes, usually the place they live or place of origin. Each sub-group has their own unique native language called Bahasa Bajau or Sinama of the Western Malayo-Polynesian language family (3); cultures and tradition. However, certain sub-groups are able to understand the languages of other sub-groups. Their shared vocabulary and general genetic characteristic draw these sub-groups to accepting the general term “Badjao”.

Religion varies from a strict adherence to Sunni Islam, forms of folk Islam, to animistic beliefs in spirits and ancestor worship. Communities lack mosques and they must rely on shore-based communities such as those of the more Islamized or Malay peoples. Due to their nomadic marine lifestyle, the Ubian are much less adherent to orthodox Islam, and practice more of a syncretic folk hybrid, revering local sea spirits, known in Islamic terminology as Jinn. A small minority of Badjau are Catholics. (4)

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Colorful non-traditional designs on the vinta boats of the Samal peoplefrom Samal Island, Philippines. Traditionally, vintas feature distinctive vertical bands and triangles of bright colors

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Badjao children in Basilan

Badjaos of the east coast have retained remnants of their traditional pre-Islamic beliefs. Traditional Badjao communities have an adukun (shaman) and adhere to taboos in the treatment of the sea and other cultural aspects. The east coast Sabah Badjaos are also famous for their annual colourful Semporna Regatta. Spirit mediums among the boat-dwellers in particular, are consulted for a public séance and nightly trance dancing. During epidemics, these mediums are also called upon to remove illness-causing spirits from the community by setting a “spirit boat” adrift in the open sea beyond the village or anchorage. (5)

Badjao fishermen use wooden sailing vessels known as perahu lambo for far voyages and construction and launch of these vessels are ritualized and are believed to have a Sumanga (spirit).(6) Badjaos are also known for their exceptional abilities in free-diving, with physical adaptations that enable them to see better and dive longer underwater; some for five hours daily. (7) Some Badjao intentionally rupture their eardrums at an early age in order to facilitate diving and hunting at sea; resulting in hard of hearing.(8) Obviously, equalization, as emphasized during my scuba diving lessons, was not an option. On the other hand, west coast Badjaos in Malaysia are expert equestrians. Badjaos are also well known for their weaving and needlework skills and have a unique type of wedding dance called the Pangigal which is famously danced to the music Dayang-dayang.(9)

For most of their history, the Badjaos have been a nomadic, seafaring people, living off the sea by trading and subsistence fishing(10) and are a peaceful people. They kept close to the shore by erecting houses on stilts, and travelled using their handmade boats which many lived in. (11) However, in the last five decades, many of the Filipino Badjaos have migrated to neighbouring Sabah, Malaysia, Sulawesi and North Kalimantan in Indonesia and the northern islands of the Philippines to escape the armed conflict in Mindanao which has disrupted traditional sea routes; as well as discrimination from the dominant Tausūg people and the majority Christian Filipinos. (12) We are reminded of last year’s siege of Zamboanga City by Muslim secessionists which displaced many Badjaos from their traditional coastal communities; forcing them to settle along the city’s crowded shore. Others have found their way to the rich and marine bio-diverse secluded bay of Anilao, Batangas.

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A Bajau village in Omadal Island,Sabah

“They are Badjaos,” said the Bantay Dagat (Guard the Sea) volunteer while pointing to a small outrigger banca just offshore. I saw two men and a young boy onboard using wooden paddles; their afternoon shadows cast on the pristine waters. Etched memories of my boyhood saw the young boys diving for coins.

For many week-end warriors like me, Anilao has been a mecca not only for scuba diving but also for windsurfing – the bay with its consistent winds plays host to the national team. Located in Batangas near the Verde Island passage, the area is said to be home to the center of marine shore fish biodiversity. Part of the Coral Triangle which is bounded by Borneo, Indonesia, Solomon Islands, the Philippines and the northern part of Australia, this is where the largest concentration of coral reefs in the world are found. (13) Based on research, the Philippines alone has 2,724 species of fish, 1,062 seaweeds, 500 species of hard corals, 42 species of mangroves and 25 species of marine mammals (14) including the largest sea mammal called the butanding or whale shark and the dugong or manatee.
To conserve and protect their marine environment, local communities in Anilao and nearby municipalities have formed marine protected areas (MPAs) which is a defined geographical area dedicated and managed through legal instruments to achieve long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values.(15) Found mostly in front of diving resorts, these MPAs aim, among others, to conserve the composition, structure, function and evolutionary potential of biodiversity; maintain assigned values in perpetuity; and possess a clear and equitable governance system. (16)

The Badjaos impact on these MPAs.

With their once free, seaborne lifestlyle, they have been reported to fish within these protected areas and have harvested the endangered Taclobo or giant clams which were seeded within these areas. Some also are ambulant vendors, selling trinkets, shell crafts and pearls to resort guests; with some being met with annoyance, if not consternation. I was told that there now even exists a barangay of Badjaos in the bay which is reportedly being supported by local politicians – ready voters in the nearing elections.
MPAs are envisioned not only to conserve and maintain diversity of habitat and associated species and ecosystem but equally important, to achieve long term conservation of cultural values.(17) But long before the hallowed concept of an MPA has evolved, the Badjaos for centuries, have already mastered the fine, sensitive art of maintaining the balance of their marine environment; of conserving and preserving our seas by living off the sea and taking only what they need while respecting the old ways of the Southern laut.

Debates in legislating a comprehensive management code for Anilao are rife. Perhaps, our learned lawmakers should also put to mind the Badjaos – with their masterful and deep knowledge of the seas, excellent sailing and navigation skills, their unique and colourful culture and beliefs; and integrate them in their legislative fiat. They can make able boatmen and their boat-building skills can be put to good use. Their exciting regatta, songs and dances can draw in many spectators while their colorful tapestries and trinkets can find a niche in the local consumer market. But more importantly, the Badjaos can impart their extensive experience and knowledge of the sea and its various flora and fauna to tourists, volunteers and the academe; and play an active and direct role in guarding the bay. Perhaps, the legislators do not have to search far and wide for some of the answers to some of their age-old questions; and so-to-speak “reinvent the wheel”.

And for the Badjaos, perhaps it is in Anilao where they will finally be blessed again by Omboh Dilaut, the God of the Sea; protected from the evils of stark poverty which has befallen many of their breathren. Perhaps, they will find home again.

 

1. En.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bajau.
3. Clifford Sather, “The Bajau Laut”, Oxford U. Press, 1997
4. En.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bajau.
5. Berndt, Ronald Murray; Berndt, Catherine Helen (1954). Arnhem Land: its history and its people. Volume 8 of Human relations area files: Murngin. F. W. Cheshire. p. 34.
6. Stacey, Natasha (2007). Boats to burn: Bajo fishing activity in the Australian fishing zone. Canberra, Australia: ANU E Press.ISBN 978-1-920942-95-3.
7. Megan Lane (January 12, 2011), What freediving does to the body, BBC News, archived from the original on March 18, 2011, retrieved March 21, 2011
8. Id., “The last of the sea nomads”. The Guardian. September 18, 2010. Archived from the original on September 18, 2010. Retrieved September 18, 2010.
9. En.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bajau.
10. “The last of the sea nomads”. The Guardian. September 18, 2010. Archived from the original on September 18, 2010. Retrieved September 18, 2010.
11. Id.
12. Mellie Leandicho Lopez (2006). A handbook of Philippine folklore. UP Press. p. 50. ISBN 971-542-514-3.
13. Coral Reefs and Fishes in the Philippines, A Field Guide to Beginners.
14. State of the Coral Triangle Report Highlights Philippines (2012).
15. International Union for Conservation of Nature (2010).
16. Erg, B. (2010).
17. Id.

*Pictures were retrieved from En.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bajau

 

To Batangas and Back Again

As I mentioned in my last post, I have recently travelled to Anilao, Mabini, Batangas as well as to the NFRDI research centre in Butong, Taal, Batangas.

My time in Anilao focused on the use of marine protected areas (MPAs) as a means of promoting sustainable fisheries and alternative livelihoods for fisherfolk. It was also an excellent reason to get an opportunity to do my intro scuba dive (which for the record did not go as well as I had hoped but it can only get better or, as the case may be, deeper!). Since the establishment of three MPAs in the area, Anilao has become a popular scuba diving destination.

While in Anilao I divided my time between one of the original dive resorts in the area, Planet Dive, and the headquarters of the local Bantay Dagat. The Bantay Dagat (Sea Patrol) are volunteer organizations that are made up of local fisherfolk who take responsibility for patrolling their local waters for illegal activities such as fishing in prohibited areas or the use of illegal fishing methods.

In Anilao, the MPAs are funded through the collection of fees (PHP200) for daily dive passes. These funds are mainly utilized to finance the Bantay Dagat’s work enforcing the MPA. By all accounts the MPA structure in Anilao has been successful to the extent that it has allowed Balayan Bay to become a world class diving destination but the system is by no means perfect.

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The view from Bantay Dagat HQ

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My time at the NFRDI Centre in Taal focused mainly on the conflicts between the extensive fish cage operations and small-scale fisherfolk in Taal Lake. Prior to the establishment of Taal as a protected landscape the lake was home to between 12,000-15,000 fish cages each measuring 10ftx10ftx10ft. Since the implementation of the Taal Volcano Protected Landscape Management Plan the number of fish cages in the lake has been reduced to 6,000.

Pusod, Inc is a major NGO that is focused on community interests and environmental education within the management of the protected landscape. Despite a torrential downpour (welcome to typhoon season in the Philippines!) I had an amazing visit to Pusod’s Taal Lake Conservation Centre! While at the centre I also had the opportunity to meet an executive from Taal Lake’s major fisherfolk organization (Kilusan ng mga Maliliit na Mangingisda sa Lawa ng Taa or KMMLT). Like in many of the other communities I’ve visited during my time in the Philippines a major issue is the lack of education regarding the ‘whys’ behind conservation plans. In Taal two major issues that currently exists for small-scale fisherfolk is the establishment of a fish sanctuary within the lake and the possible establishment of a ‘closed season’ (ie no fishing allowed!) for tawilis. Tawilis are a freshwater sardine that are endemic to Taal Lake.

While in Taal I also had the opportunity to learn about an alternative livelihood project that is being championed by NFRDI – ornamental fish farming. While to date there has been limited uptake of this opportunity, at least in Batangas, I met with one SSF who has been able to establish a thriving small business in ornamental fishes. Unfortunately (at least for me!) this ornamental fish farmer had just sold his entire stock of fishes when we visited but I was able to tour his farm which consists of converted pig troughs as fish tanks! I call that repurposing at its finest!!

A few of the fish cages in Taal Lake

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A VIP Trip to Visit Some of the Cages

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Stolen Fish, Stolen Future

By Viviane Koutob

From February 2012 to June 2013 I’ve conducted researches on IUU fishing in Senegal. The research aimed to give estimation to the IUU fishing catches, the species composition, the value and their impacts on national fisheries.

First of all, fisheries represent a lot for Senegal. 600 000 persons of the active population are working in the sector, fish consumption is about 72% of animal protein, and 450,000 t/year of landed fish.

As a new graduate at that time it was difficult to gather information about IUU knowing that for longest it was a topic that no one was talking about. Even if authorities know about its existence, an estimation of costs has never been asked.

Though there was no model of calculation, the first step was to gather information that could help build a model which takes in consideration reality of the ground means illegal activities. And talking of illegal activities means no one is aware of the existence of those activities, there’s no recording, there’s no proof only assumptions. Artisanal catches were not considered because almost everyone, I mean local experts were saying that all the artisanal catches were illegal and some of them are reported even if the misreporting rate was really low.

So I’ve spend months collecting information on AIS, radar system, with administrations, talking with authorities, conduct a survey, participate to multinational exercises on MDAs (Maritime Domain Awereness) and a the end with the help of some colleagues I’ve come up with a model describing IUU fishing catches in Senegal.

Here below, the picture of an IUU fishing vessel during AMLEP 2011

Agnes 9 : July 21st, AMLEP 2011

Agnes 9 : July 21st, AMLEP 2011

Agnes 9 : July 21st, AMLEP 2011

Agnes 9 : July 21st, AMLEP 2011

The Adventure Continues

Hello Again!

Where have the past two weeks gone!! Apparently time really does fly when you’re having fun!

Since getting back to Quezon City from Guiuan, I have split my time between working out of the NFRDI office, meeting with local NGOs and researching the beaches of Boracay. For the record I would like to emphasize that beach research is much more difficult than it sounds!!

In QC I had the opportunity to connect with a number of fantastic NGOs and consultants who focus on small scale fisheries. The first NGO I met with was Tambuyog Development Centre, a national NGO that advocates for the promotion of sustainable livelihoods for small scale fisherfolk. Tambuyog is also one of the NGO representatives on the National Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (NFARMCs). Tambuyog is also a lead agency in the regional Southeast Fish (SEAFish) for Justice Network. I plan to spend more time with Tambuyog next week so look for more details then.

I also met with the inspiring people behind a venture called Blue Water Consultancy. Blue Water focuses on creating sustainable livelihoods by supporting communities in establishing marine sanctuaries and protected areas to create sustainable livelihoods through tourism.

Last week saw me spend a few days enjoying the beautiful beaches of Boracay before visiting the renowned marine protected area (and scuba diving destination) in Anilao, Mabini, Batangas. My experience there was too remarkable to discuss without pictures so unfortunately that update will have to come in a few days.

Until then I leave you with some words of wisdom courtesy of the University of the Philippines College of Law:

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Week 3 – Guiuan: Pictures are Worth a 1000 Words

Back in Quezon City after spending a week in Guiuan, Eastern Samar. Guiuan was one of areas hardest hit by Typhoon Yolanda. The amount of destruction left behind after the Typhoon literally made me speechless upon our arrival but what left an even bigger impact was the resiliency of the people.

Based on the few municipalities I have visited so far, Guiuan’s regulations regarding its municipal fisheries appear to be among the most comprehensive. Highlights include the development of a Coastal Resource Management Plan as well as the creation of a number of marine sanctuaries to protect the municipality’s coral reef breeding grounds. Unfortunately after Yolanda, a number of these sanctuaries have been left unprotected due to the destruction of nearly all of the guardhouses in the areas.

Enjoy the pictures!

The NFRDI Centre in Guiuan

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A Visit to a Fishing Village on Manicani Island

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Market Day in Guiuan!

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Week 2 – Time to Hit the Road

My second week in the Philippines was spent visiting sites outside of Metro Manila. The first stop of the week was to a pair of Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (“BFAR”) sites in Dagupan City. Dagupan City is the major/capital city of Pangasinan province in the north. It is also a city that is renowned for the quality of its farmed milkfish, known locally as bangus. In Dagupan City I visited the BFAR National Inland Fisheries Technology Development Centre (“NIFTDC”), BFAR’s regional office for region and also met with the Chief Agricultural Officer (“CAO”) for the municipality.

After a 4am departure for the 4 hour drive to Dagupan City, the first stop of the day was the NIFTDC. The NIFTDC is one of the research centres dedicated to developing and improving technologies for use in inland fisheries. The facilities at NIFTDC consist of research laboratories, extensive hatchery facilities for species including white prawns, bangus, the Asian Fishery Academy and a fish processing facility.

The afternoon was spent visiting BFAR and municipal offices to discuss the state of small-scale fisheries and of municipal fishing regulations in Dagupan City. My discussion with the CAO was the first time I had had the opportunity to learn directly about small-scale (or municipal) fisherfolk in the Philippines.

After arriving back in Quezon City at at approximately 9pm, it was a quick turnaround before leaving for the airport at 3am to catch thee 4:45am flight to Roxas City (They love their early morning flights in PH!). Roxas City is located in the Visayas area of the Philippines and on the island of Panay. The trip to Roxas City was my opportunity to observe a hearing to address a Fishpond Lease Agreement conflict. The hearing was a ‘livelier’ event than I had been expecting but it definitely underscored the reality of the situation for the parties involved. The issue at stake is not simply a legal issue but rather is an issue that dictates their ability to feed their families.

Following the hearing process, I observed the BFAR team while they completed their ocular inspection of the fishpond are under dispute. It was nice to finally see thee infamous fishponds that I had spent the past 10 days reading about. I would have enjoyed the inspection more if I had not been wearing a dress but lesson learned for the next site visit!

This week I am in Guiuan, Eastern Samar. Guiuan is one of the areas that was most devastated by Typhoon Yolanda in November 2013. Internet connections are a little scare so I will be uploading a complete blog including pictures (finally!!) when I’m back in Quezon City in a few days.

And for those who are wondering…it is still HOT and the sunscreen supply is already dwindling!

The Right to Food: a Menace to Marine Biodiversity

By Sukanya Thapliyal

Photographer: Gideon Malias https://www.flickr.com/people/malias/

Photographer: Gideon Malias https://www.flickr.com/people/malias/

The right to food is one of the fundamental human rights whose journey began with the recognition in 1948 of the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights. It was later enshrined in the 1966 International Covenant On Economic, Social And Cultural Rights and still holds an important position, especially with respect to the countries who are comparatively less equipped to cater for the needs of the new arrivals, their future and incidental challenges developing from time to time.[1]

As per the authoritative definition developed by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR) explains, the right to adequate food is realized when every man, women and child, alone or in a community with others, has physical and economic access at all times to adequate food or means for its procurement.[2] Now, with the current population of 5300 million which is increasing at the rate of 250,000 people every day, it can easily be estimated that the implementation of such fundamental rights won’t be an easy task for the countries that fall within the category of developing and underdeveloped nations.[3]

Fisheries, in such a scenario, are a blessing. It is currently a leading means of livelihood and food security to around 200 million people across the world. As per the data provided by UN, one out of five people in this planet depend on fish as their primary source of protein. There has also been tremendous increase in the demand for fish and fish products for quite some time, which has made investment in this sector more attractive than ever. Looking at the monetary benefits, several governments have directed their efforts to facilitate further exploitation in this sector.[4]

Unfortunately all is not a fairy tale. The unbridled and frantic efforts by mankind aimed towards its survival and monetary benefits has left environmental concerns far behind. This quest for food, shelter and comfort has lead to the depletion of around more than 70% of the world’s fish species.[5] For a very long time these questions were being evaded by the shield created by the fundamental right to food and the same was unethically used in this regard. This is the very reason behind the dismal picture of the future of the marine world. The pathetic condition of the fisheries sector is having direct and indirect consequences that are not limited to the lack of food but are capable of turning the whole of our ecosystem upside down.

Most of the time, the magnitude of this problem of overfishing is overlooked. It is not considered a crisis situation in comparison to the threat of deforestation, desertification, and energy resource depletion. Now, even though each region has its own regional convention and the adoption of the UNEP Global Program Of Action For Protection Of Marine Environment has taken place by 108 countries and the European Commission, the fate of the marine ecosystem has not changed as expected.

Undoubtedly, this is a grim situation in need of attention that is currently not being given. The reason for this is due to the soft nature of international law, multilateral treaties and conventions and unwillingness on the part of member states. The state members, individually as well as being a part of the world community, need to have a holistic approach in this regard keeping aside their monetary benefits and by emphasizing more on long term benefits for our planet. Its time for the state parties to take care of proper implementation of the promises they made at different forums that disclosed their partial willingness to create a better future for the world we live in.

 

 

[1] http://www.srfood.org/en/right-to-food

[2] Ibid

[3] http://www.fao.org/docrep/u3550t/u3550t02.htm

[4] http://www.un.org/events/tenstories/06/story.asp?storyID=800

[5] ibid

 

Philippines Week 1 – “Philippines Fisheries 101″

Katipunan Ave., Quezon City, Philippines. Photographer: Mike Gonzalez. Licensed under the Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

Katipunan Ave., Quezon City, Philippines. Photographer: Mike Gonzalez. Licensed under the Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

For eight weeks this summer I will be in the Philippines as part of the Global Summer Internship Program as well as the Global Fisheries Legal Education Program (“GFLEP”). While in the Philippines I am being hosted by the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (“NFRDI”). During my summer I will have the dual objectives of researching small scale fisheries and aquaculture in the Philippines, as well as investigating the potential for a future GFLEP in the country.

I have spent my first week in the Philippines with the Philippines Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (“BFAR”). I am being hosted by the Legal Division but spent the majority of this week meeting with other departments to learn as much about fisheries and aquaculture in the Philippines as possible. Needless to say this week has been a whirlwind!

In the Philippines, fisheries are mainly regulated by Republic Act 8550 or the Philippines Fisheries Code of 1998. In the Philippines the legislative jurisdiction over fisheries is divided between the federal government and local government units (“LGUs”). LGUs have jurisdiction over any fishing activity that takes place within its boundaries or within 15km of its marine shoreline. In accordance with the divided fisheries jurisdiction, small scale fisheries (or municipal fisheries) are governed by the local government units (“LGUs”). Accordingly the majority of my time with BFAR this week has focused on Philippine aquaculture and a legal instrument called ‘Fishpond Lease Agreements’ (“FLAs”).

Outside of the office, my first week in the Philippines has also been fantastic. Everyone I have met has been incredibly welcoming and more than willing to help. The weather here is ridiculous! During my first two days the temperature reached 51C including humidity but it has thankfully cooled down to a (relatively!) cool 35C. I am staying in one of the more lively Barangays in Quezon City that has a wide range of restaurants and nightlife. Unfortunately jet lag has meant that I haven’t had much time to explore yet but there’s always week 2!

Next week I will still be with BFAR’s Legal Division but will be traveling to Dagupan City and then to Capiz to visit some BFAR Regional Offices.

As they say – it’s always more fun in the Philippines!

Scotland’s Implementation of the European Union’s Common Fisheries Policy

By Marine Scotland, a Directorate of the Scottish Government.

Jura - Marine Scotland

Photo: “Jura” by Marine Scotland https://www.flickr.com/people/marinescotland/

Scotland is among the largest sea fishing nations in Europe with Scottish fishing vessels landing around two thirds of the total fish caught in the United Kingdom.  The quota for fish stocks and all inshore fisheries within the 12 nautical mile limit is managed by Marine Scotland, a Directorate of the Scottish Government.  Marine Scotland is also responsible for controlling the activities of fishing vessels and fishing effort – which is days spent at sea – in waters around Scotland and Scottish vessels wherever they are.

Many of the fisheries of importance to Scotland are managed in an international context, mostly through the European Union’s (EU) Common Fisheries Policy.  This may be directly through Regulations made by institutions of the European Union, but in some cases these will be transposed into Scottish legislation.  Scotland has a different legal system to that of the rest of the UK, including the need for corroboration (i.e. a second source of evidence) in order to prosecute an alleged offender.  Examples of Scottish legislation, and information on how it is made, can be found on the Scottish Parliament’s website[1].

Marine Scotland negotiates, on behalf of Scottish Ministers, fishing opportunities in the form of quota for Scotland’s fleet. Marine Scotland also helps to develop Europe’s fisheries management policies and implement them in the waters around Scotland and in Scotland’s fleet, wherever it fishes.

In addition to the legislation, there are a number of administrative mechanisms that Marine Scotland uses to manage the fishing activities of vessels around Scotland such as quotas, effort management and technical measures.  These include the Conservation Credits Scheme[2]; and the Fully Documented Fishery[3] (FDF) which is enforced by the use of remote electronic monitoring (CCTV in this instance) and sensor data on board fishing vessels that record all aspects of catch handling for those who participate in the scheme.  Scotland currently leads Europe in the use of FDF.  New trials with pelagic vessels were introduced last year ahead of the EU ban on discarding of species in pelagic fisheries from 1 January 2015.  Administrative – as opposed to criminal – sanctions may be applied for breaches of these mechanisms.

Effective monitoring and enforcement of marine and fishing laws is vital if we are to protect Scotland’s valuable marine areas and fisheries. These are protected through detection of breaches of fisheries regulations by monitoring and inspection both at sea and in ports; reporting as appropriate to the prosecuting authorities; and providing intelligence on fishing activity in the sea areas around Scotland.  These activities are undertaken by Marine Scotland Compliance, an arm of Marine Scotland dedicated to these functions.

To do this, Marine Scotland Compliance has a number of resources[4].  There are 18 area offices around the coast of Scotland and a headquarters function based in Edinburgh; there are in the region of 100 Compliance staff; there are three Marine Protection Vessels – the Jura, the Hirta and the Minna – and there are two patrol aircraft.  Staff of Marine Scotland Compliance also have a range of enforcement powers provided for them through UK and, particularly since devolution, Scottish legislation.

There are a number of mechanisms that Marine Scotland Compliance uses to enforce fishery laws.  These include the provision of information and advice to those suspected of breaching the law; issuing of warning letters to suspects; in some instances issuing Fixed Penalty Notices to suspects; and finally reporting the case directly to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service for consideration of prosecution.  If a case is prosecuted through the courts, both the Procurator Fiscal (the prosecutor) and the Sheriff have options open to them in terms of how to dispose of a case.

Further information on Marine Scotland, and its Compliance arm, can be found on the Scottish Government webpages[5].

 

[1] http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/index.aspx

[2] http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/marine/Sea-Fisheries/17681

[3] http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/marine/Licensing/FVLS/catchquota

[4] http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/marine/Compliance/resources

[5] http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/marine