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Philippines tackles illegal fishing with smart tracking technology

9 minute read
As part of the Philippine government's quest for economic and environmental stability, The Ministry of Agriculture has launched an improved system equipped with modern technologies to monitor fishing vessels and control their operations to change the future of the fishing sector and make it safer and more sustainable.
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As part of the Philippine government's quest for economic and environmental stability, The Ministry of Agriculture has launched an improved system equipped with modern technologies to monitor fishing vessels and control their operations to change the future of the fishing sector and make it safer and more sustainable.

The Philippines has rich marine resources, makes fish a very important economic resource for them, The Philippines' capital sector employs more than one and a half million. This requires sustained efforts to address the growing threats to marine biodiversity. Chief among them is illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing for the relevant authorities and its negative economic and environmental consequences.

The term "illegal fishing" refers to the activities of Philippine vessels that violate local or international laws, "Unreported fishing" is practices that are not registered with a State or are classified contrary to its activity; While "unregulated fishing" includes the activities carried out by vessels belonging to local or foreign companies outside the designated areas, Or at points that are not subject to guidelines.

This process is confidential and complex, Therefore, it is difficult to collect, analyze accurately and build on real data, Despite USAID's efforts to create an index to track these practices. The Philippine authorities have previously issued Administrative Order No. 260, which targeted all commercial fishing vessels operating in domestic waters or the high seas with a gross tonnage of more than 3.1 tons. He obliged them to install special transceiver equipment. But this did not apply to all ships, Consequently, he did not succeed in fully controlling the processes. Illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing in Philippine waters continues to cost the government up to $1.3 billion annually. With a fishing volume that may exceed two thousand tons.

In response to the invitation of local authorities and civil society organizations, The Ministry of Agriculture's Office of Water and Fisheries Resources has launched the Integrated Marine Environment Monitoring System (IMMS).

Work began after the enactment of Fisheries Administrative Order No. 266, which includes a set of rules and regulations for the implementation of vessel control measures and the application of an electronic reporting system to each fishing vessel flying the Philippine flag, Whether within the exclusive economic zone or in the territorial waters of neighboring countries.

The innovative project offers an upgraded and more comprehensive version of the monitoring, control and surveillance program, The current technology integrates 3 functions of the system, Namely, communication, licensing, law enforcement, To ensure live monitoring of the activities of all commercial fishing vessels.

To activate the system, Ship crews should install a machine known as VMS-100. It is a transceiver for tracking ships, It uses a low-cost, high-intelligence dual terrestrial and satellite communication system. In addition, The ship must carry a smart ID panel with a wireless radio chip that allows the ship to be identified, communicate with its crew via their mobile phones and connect them to the electronic reporting system at the control point.

For now, Besides equipping vessels, The office is working on the installation of more than 130 sensors and the establishment of several regional control centers, Each is effective within a range of 100 nautical miles or 185 kilometers. Around the clock The system automatically collects data from ground and satellite sensors, It then transfers it to the national data center, which processes and analyzes them, As well as tracking ships, verifying their operating licenses, and automatically detecting any violating activities. The Centre then makes the results available to the ministerial team and its partners, who in turn provided a summary of their previous observations. The system also uses advanced digital display technologies and integrated communication tools to provide operators with an accurate picture of what is going on.

Modern built-in technologies also allow reporting on the quantity and quality of fish caught by ships through special and easy-to-use digital means. The data is then transmitted to the coast control centre. Authorities rely on this data to conduct audits of ships' tonnage of fish.

In order to avoid any data privacy challenges, The system uses low-cost encrypted communications technology, Known as the "Automatic Identification System", It is a technology approved for the transmission of ship data by the International Maritime Organization.

But the most important challenge lies in the cost of the system, It requires about two thousand US dollars to load, This may impose difficulties on the administrative units responsible for small-scale fishers. Especially those with financial and administrative difficulties.

This does not negate the advisory services provided by the system that make local farmers and fishermen active partners in the agricultural value chain regionally and globally.

In addition, Live data helps provide a quick response, It also represents a rich reference on oceanic ecosystems, which serves the purposes of scientific research, disaster recovery plans and measures to address climate change. Through the newly developed control centre, the depletion of marine resources in a given spot is avoided and vessels are managed away from the most stressful fishing spots so that they can recover. Most importantly, it is to enable authorities to track and communicate with vessels. This contributes to law enforcement and ensuring full compliance with conservation and management measures in place under Philippine regulations.



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