Selected postings from east-timor (reg.easttimor)

Subject: Philippines, TL, Indonesia meet on fishing

Business World (Philippines)

Vol. XXII, No. 64

Thursday, October 23, 2008 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

The Economy

Philippines eyes more fishing grounds in the Pacific

OFFICIALS of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) will lead Philippine businessmen in meeting today counterparts from Timor-Leste and Indonesia to discuss implementation of a recently signed agreement designed to foster cooperation on sustainable fishing, the head of the agency said.

"It would be a very good opportunity for the senior officials [of Timor-Leste] to meet potential investors from the Philippines," BFAR Director Malcolm I. Sarmiento said at the sidelines of the 3rd Coral Triangle Initiative Coordination Committee meeting.

"I will be calling them [tuna fishing companies] up to make themselves available for a meeting with Timor-Leste on Thursday before the Senior Officials Meeting [in Ortigas Center]," Mr. Sarmiento said, adding that he would invite Navotas ­ and General Santos-based tuna companies.

The so-called Coral Triangle is a 2.3-million square mile area boundering the Philippines, Timor Leste, Indonesia, Malaysia (Sabah), Papua New Guinea, and Solomon Islands.

Studies show the area is home to more than a third of all the world’s coral reefs, harbors about 600 species of reef-building coral, or 75% of all known coral species, over 3,000 species of reef fish, holds nearly 75% of the world’s mangrove species, over 45% of seagrass species, 58% of tropical marine mollusks, five species of sea turtles and at least 22 species of marine mammals, including 97 species of reef fishes endemic to Indonesia, and more than 50 in the Philippines.

The government is looking at harvesting 30,000-50,000 metric tons of tuna from Banda Sea in the triangle.


Last August, the Philippines and Timor-Leste signed a memorandum of agreement on post-harvest operations; fish processing development and marketing; coastal management and development; marine fisheries conservation; combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing practices; as well as environmental protection.

"Subject to their respective laws and regulations, the Parties agree to grant fishing licenses to each other’s fishing vessels," the pact read.

Lourenco Borges Fontes, director general of Timor’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, said in a separate interview that "We have laws and regulations that will allow investment in the fisheries sector in Timor-Leste."

"Fishermen already experienced in the Philippines can head to Timor-Leste to capacitate our local fishermenin catching more fish," he explained.

A government and private fishers’ survey of Timor-Leste’s waters next month "will depend on initial talks with Timor-Leste officials," Mr. Sarmeinto said.

The bureau will also meet with Indonesian senior official on lifting the ban, which took effect last May, on transport of raw tuna outside that country’s territory, Mr. Sarmiento said.

"We can immediately arrange for a group to go to Jakarta or we can invite them over [for a dialogue]," he added.

In the first half, the fisheries subsector experienced a growth slowdown of 2.74% from a 7.24% expansion in the same period last year due to steep increase in oil prices and typhoons and natural calamities, data from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics show. ­ Neil Jerome C. Morales


Marine management plan in the works

THE PHILIPPINES, together with five other countries that form part of the Coral Triangle Initiative, namely: Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea,the Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste, will draft a plan to preserve and manage marine resources in the Coral Triangle in a meeting today, an official statement read yesterday.

"The intention is to integrate nations’ programs into a regional action plan," Environment Undersecretary Manuel D. Gerochi said in a phone interview yesterday.

The Coral Triangle Initiative is a regional effort launched last year with international partners the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Global Environment Facility, as well as environmental groups World Wide Fund for Nature, Conservation International and the Nature Conservancy.

"Elements of the action plan are already getting under way, and it will be fully operational after its endorsement by leaders of the participating countries at a Coral Triangle Initiative Summit in Indonesia, planned for May 2009," the statement quoted ADB Principal Environment Specialist David McCauley as saying.

The regional plan will include three projects in the local, national and regional levels based on the objectives agreed on by the participating countries.

Two out of these three projects are to be implemented in the Philippines. The first project will involve development of models for sustainable financing of efforts to preserve marine protected areas in Southeast Asia, while the second project will involve regional information exchange that will include the latest scientific data on climate change.

"The Philippines can benefit from the regional plan because it will allow us to avail of funding for projects," Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) director Malcolm I. Sarmiento Jr. said in a telephone interview yesterday.

"We are looking at projects in strengthening our law enforcement capabilities in monitoring illegal fishing practices, establishment [sic] of threatened species and continuing research on tuna." ­ L. D. Desiderio and N. J. Morales

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