Remarks by Deputy Mission Director Patrick Wesner, Sustainable Seafood Roadmap: A Scoping Workshop on Philippine Domestic Sustainable Seafood Certification

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

[As Prepared]

[Greetings]

I have been here in the Philippines a little over a year, and in that time I have seen the close relationship between the Government of the Philippines and U.S. government.

This relationship is built on a deep friendship between our peoples that spans decades, built on strong people-to-people relationships stemming from family ties, shared values, tourism and cultural exchange.

This relationship is based on a long-standing partnership to work together to address development challenges in the Philippines, promote bilateral trade and commerce, and address regional political issues.

And this relationship is based on an alliance that supports our mutual security, enables continued freedom of navigation, and upholds the defense of our shared values and liberty.

The United States and the Philippines truly are friends, partners and allies.

I would like to congratulate the organizers of this workshop, Pristine Solutions, Control Union, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and its partners who have co-developed a certification scheme for sustainable seafood.

Your plan to pioneer this initiative today is a critical action in achieving the Philippines’ roadmap to sustainable seafood, wherein fish populations remain productive and healthy. This includes protecting habitats and species as an intrinsic part of sustainable management.

In the Asia-Pacific region, over 200 million people directly depend on fisheries for livelihoods and food security. The value and importance of fisheries in the Asia-Pacific is unparalleled.

More than 50 percent of the world’s seafood is sourced from this region. The Philippines is, in fact, one of the world’s top fish producing countries in the world.

However, this sector remains at risk along with the millions who depend on it for their livelihoods due to illegal, unreported, and unregulated, or IUU, fishing practices. The Philippines loses about 68.5 billion pesos every year to IUU fishing.

USAID is working with BFAR and a consortium of local partners to address these threats in select marine biodiversity areas in the Philippines. Our partnership advocates for the sustainable use of coastal and marine resources, enhances the resilience of these resources, and works with Philippine authorities to sustainably manage fisheries.

Complementing this work, USAID’s regional program collaborates with BFAR to increase transparency and accountability on sustainable fishing through an electronic seafood traceability system.

The system traces the movement of a product like fish throughout the supply chain. Through a “bait to plate” traceability approach, fish catch is tracked at all stages — from catch at sea through production, processing and up to final sale. This information helps people make informed decisions, so that their consumption is more sustainable.

USAID’s partnership with Rare linked small scale conservation enterprises to upscale retail markets to provide incentives to fisherfolk for adopting sustainable fishing behaviors like fishing in the right habitats.

These interventions are foundational elements of sustainable fisheries management. As management of fisheries improves, people can rely on fish stocks in the long-term and expect greater seafood trade, resulting in more sustainable livelihoods and food security.

USAID recognizes that private sector engagement is critical to accelerating the Philippines’ journey achieving their own development goals, and sustainable fisheries are an important part of this journey.

The private sector is pivotal in changing the fisheries landscape. By introducing innovative, market-based solutions like a seafood certification label, we can influence stakeholders to make sustainability a standard in doing business.

Additionally, working toward a sustainable future for our fisheries by stopping illegal activities in the fisheries sector requires strong commitment from both public and private institutions.

Together with all of you gathered here today, we hope to journey with you in catalyzing actions to responsibly manage our shared marine resources, build partnerships and business models that are profitable, transparent and sustainable.

Thank you.

Issuing Country 

Last updated: September 10, 2019

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