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Philippines, PNG sign new pact for fisheries development

The Philippines and Papua New Guinea (PNG) have forged an agreement to strengthen cooperation in fisheries development.

The memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed by Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol and Papua New Guinea Minister for Fisheries and Marine Resources Patrick Basa in Quezon City on Friday.

The MoU called on the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) and Papua New Guinea’s National Fisheries Authority (NFA) to boost “mutual cooperation, consultation, and exchange of technical assistance in fisheries research and development.”

“Under the MoU, we remain connected as regards fisheries data sharing which provides us better access and control over our Philippine flagged vessels operating in PNG, coordination on the Coral Triangle Initiative and fight against IUU (illegal, unreported, unregulated) fishing, among others. Thus [it] also bolsters our closer ties with PNG on other matters such as food, especially rice production,” BFAR Director Eduardo Gongona told The Manila Times.

Under the new pact, a Joint Committee on Fisheries Cooperation (JCFC) composed of representatives from both countries and implementing arrangements are also being reviewed and vetted. The deal, which follows the first MoU signed by the two governments in 2009, will remain in force for five years and then be reviewed for renewal.

PNG has an extensive and valuable fisheries sector ranging from inland river fisheries, aquaculture, coastal beche-de-mer and reef fisheries to the prawn trawl and large-scale deepwater tuna fisheries. Its fisheries zone of 2.4 million square kilometers is the largest in the South Pacific and includes an extended reef system, numerous islands and an extensive coastline.

In November last year, during President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to PNG, a memorandum of agreement (MOA) for a joint rice development project was also signed by Piñol and Papuan Agriculture and Livestock Minister Benny Allan. The deal formalized cooperation on rice production research and development, and rice farming technology between the two countries.

Prior to this, the two countries also signed a joint declaration that signified a shared commitment to expand and fortify bilateral relations and cooperation in the field of agriculture and agro-industries, particularly in areas such as rice and industrial crops production; aquaculture and inland fish farming; livestock breeding and improvement; and agri-business development.

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