Philippine fisheries

Foreign vessels fishing in Philippine waters drives down production in 2022

Lance Spencer Yu

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Foreign vessels fishing in Philippine waters drives down production in 2022
Fisheries production in 2022 sunk to 275,872 metric tons, down from 295,332 metric tons in 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Foreign vessels trespassing and fishing in the Philippines was among the causes of lower fisheries output in 2022, according to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

“We cannot deny the fact that it has an impact, but the government is finding a solution,” BFAR National Director Demosthenes Escoto said on Thursday, June 15, according to a report by

Escoto cited the efforts of the National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea as among the government’s “solutions.” But that hasn’t prevented Chinese foreign vessels from frequently intruding into Philippine waters. 

In January, a Chinese coast guard vessel allegedly drove away a Filipino fishing boat in Ayungin Shoal. The following month, another one of its coast guard vessels flashed a military-grade laser at a Philippine Coast Guard ship in waters near Ayungin Shoal.

On Thursday, a Chinese Navy ship was seen following a Philippine vessel a few nautical miles off Pag-asa Island as it was on its way to distribute livelihood aid in the island, which was within the country’s exclusive economic zone.

These kinds of incidents put pressure on local fishermen, who must compete with foreign vessels that are often larger and faster. BFAR spokesman Nazario Briguera said that fisheries production in the West Philippine Sea had sunk to 275,872 metric tons of fish in 2022, down from 295,332 metric tons in 2021, according to One News.

While tensions due to territorial disputes have plagued places like Pag-asa Island for years, Escoto could not give an exact figure on the scope of its impact on fisherfolk.

(READ: Fishing industry might collapse if Chinese incursion continues – scientists)

It appeared the government was now pivoting toward livelihood programs to alleviate the woes of local fishermen. BFAR has distributed around P4.95 million worth of equipment to Pag-asa Island fisherfolk to boost their levels of productivity, the agency announced on Friday, June 16. The gear included fish stalls, fish containers, floaters, twines, lead sinkers, and post-harvest equipment such as freezers, coolers, and a generator set, among others.

BFAR also trained locals how to handle fish properly in compliance with good manufacturing practices and sanitation standards.

Itong paglalayag ay isang inisyatiba ayon sa tagubilin ng ating Pangulong Ferdinand Marcos Jr. na paigtingin ang pagbibigay ng suporta sa sektor ng mga mangingisda, maging sa mga malalayong baybaying komunidad,” Escoto said during the distribution of the equipment.

(This voyage is an initiative taken in light of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s orders to increase our support of the fisheries sector, including those who are in distant communities.)


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Lance Spencer Yu

Lance Spencer Yu is a multimedia reporter who covers the transportation, tourism, infrastructure, finance, agriculture, and corporate sectors, as well as macroeconomic issues.