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Philippine Fisheries Code (R.A. No. 8550) | Lapuz | Eyana | September 2017

The Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998 and managing aquatic resources and the fishery
areas, including the privilege to fish or take
This law was enacted on February 25, 1998. It is an act
aquatic resource thereof.
which provides for the development and conservation of
the fisheries and aquatic resources. On February 27, 2015,  Aquaculture - fishery operations involving all
RA No. 10654 (An Act to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate forms of raising and culturing fish and other
Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing) was fishery species in fresh, brackish and marine
enacted. It repealed Chapter VI and replaces it with a new water areas
Chapter VI on Prohibitions and Penalties. A new Chapter
 Aquatic Resources - includes fish, all other
VII on Administrative Adjudication was also inserted.
aquatic flora and fauna and other living resources
Application of the Law: of the aquatic environment, including, but not
limited to, salt and corals.
(a) all Philippine waters including other waters over
which the Philippines has sovereignty and  Fishing - the taking of fishery species from their
jurisdiction, and the country's 200-nautical mile wild state of habitat, with or without the use of
Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and continental fishing vessels.
 Municipal waters - include not only streams,
(b) all aquatic and fishery resources whether inland, lakes, inland bodies of water and tidal waters
coastal or offshore fishing areas, including but not within the municipality which are not included
limited to fishponds, fishpens/cages; and within the protected areas as defined under
Republic Act No. 7586 (The NIPAS Law), public
(c) all lands devoted to aquaculture, or businesses and
forest, timber lands, forest reserves or fishery
activities relating to fishery, whether private or public
lands (Sec. 3).
 Commercial Fishing - the taking of fishery
Permanent Court of Arbitration Decision (July 12, species by passive or active gear for trade,
2016): business & profit beyond subsistence or sports
 China violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights fishing, to be further classified as:
in its exclusive economic zone by (a) interfering
 (1) Small scale commercial fishing - fishing with
with Philippine fishing and petroleum
passive or active gear utilizing fishing vessels of
corporation, (b) constructing artificial islands and
3.1 gross tons (GT) up to twenty (20) GT;
(c) failing to prevent Chinese fishermen from
fishing in the zone.  (2) Medium scale commercial fishing - fishing
utilizing active gears and vessels of 20.1 GT up
 The tribunal found that fishermen from the
to one hundred fifty (150) GT; and
Philippines had traditional fishing rights at
Scarborough Shoal and that China had interfered  (3) Large commercial fishing - fishing utilizing
with these rights in restricting access. active gears and vessels of more than one hundred
fifty (150) GT
Definition of Terms Implementing Agency
 Fish and Fishery/Aquatic Products - include The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources
not only finfish but also mollusks, crustaceans, (BFAR) which is under the Department of
echinoderms, marine mammals, and all other Agriculture, is tasked to enforce all laws, formulate
species of aquatic flora and fauna and all other and enforce all rules and regulations governing the
products of aquatic living conservation and management of fishery resources,
except in municipal waters (Sec. 65)
 Fisheries - refers to all activities relating to the
act or business of fishing, culturing, preserving, Powers of the Department of Agriculture under the
processing, marketing, developing, conserving Philippine Fisheries Code:
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Philippine Fisheries Code (R.A. No. 8550) | Lapuz | Eyana | September 2017

1. To issue licenses and permits for the conduct of Municipal Fisheries

fishery activities subject to the limits of the maximum
 The municipal/city government shall have
sustainable yield (MSY) of the resource. Note:
jurisdiction over municipal waters.
Preference shall be given to resource users in the local
 The LGUs shall also enforce all fishery laws,
communities adjacent or nearest to the municipal
rules and regulations as well as valid fishery
ordinances enacted by the municipal/city council
2. May impose catch ceiling limitations (Sec. 16).
3. To establish closed season (the period which the
 The management of contiguous fishery
taking of specified fishery species by a specified
resources such as bays which straddle several
fishing gear is prohibited in a specified area or areas
municipalities, cities or provinces, shall be done
in Philippine waters) (Sec. 8).
in an integrated manner, and shall not be based on
Undersecretary for Fisheries and Aquatic political subdivisions of municipal waters in
Resources: order to facilitate their management as single
resource systems.
(a) set policies and formulate standards for the  Grant of Fishing Privileges in Municipal Waters
effective, efficient and economical operations of the –
fishing industry in accordance with the programs of … in areas where there are special
the government; agencies or offices vested with jurisdiction
(b) exercise overall supervision over all functions and over municipal waters by virtue of special
activities of all offices and instrumentalities and other laws creating these agencies such as, but not
offices related to fisheries including its officers; limited to, the Laguna Lake Development
Authority and the Palawan Council for
(c) establish, with the assistance of the director, such Sustainable Development, said offices and
regional, provincial and other fishery officers as may agencies shall continue to grant permits for
be necessary and appropriate and organize the proper management and implementation of
internal structure of BFAR in such manner as is the aforementioned structures (Sec. 17).
necessary for the efficient and effective attainment of
its objectives and purposes Laguna Lake Development Authority vs. Court of
Use of Philippine Waters G.R. Nos. 120865-71 December 7, 1995

1987 Constitution Philippine Fisheries Which agency of the Government — the Laguna Lake
Code Development Authority or the towns and municipalities
comprising the region — should exercise jurisdiction over
the Laguna Lake insofar as the issuance of permits for
The State shall The use and exploitation
fishery privileges is concerned?
protect the nation’s of the fishery and aquatic
marine wealth in its resources in Philippine It’s the LLDA. Laguna de Bay is a single body of water
archipelagic waters, waters shall be reserved transcending the boundaries of different Provinces
territorial sea, and exclusively to Filipinos:
and Municipalities but constitutes one integrated
exclusive economic Provided, however, That
zone, and reserve its research and survey
delicate natural ecosystem that needs to be protected
use and enjoyment activities may be allowed with uniform set of policies. Laguna de Bay cannot be
exclusively to under strict regulations, subjected to fragmented concepts of management
Filipino citizens (Art. for purely research, policies where lakeshore local government units
XII, Sec. 2). scientific, technological exercise exclusive dominion over specific portions of
and educational purposes the lake water. The garbage thrown or sewage
that would also benefit discharged into the lake, abstraction of water therefrom or
Filipino citizens (Sec. 5). construction of fishpens by enclosing its certain area,
affect not only that specific portion but the entire 900 km²
of lake water.
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Philippine Fisheries Code (R.A. No. 8550) | Lapuz | Eyana | September 2017

Users of Municipal Waters (Sec. 18)  Section 131(p) of the LGC (R.A. No. 7160)
defines a marginal farmer or fisherman as an
 All fishery related activities in municipal waters
individual engaged in subsistence farming or
shall be utilized by municipal fisherfolk and their
fishing which shall be limited to the sale, barter
cooperatives/organizations who are listed as such
or exchange of agricultural or marine products
in the registry of municipal fisherfolk.
produced by himself and his immediate family.
 Municipal fisherfolk - persons who are directly or
 A subsistence fisherman is one whose catch
indirectly engaged in municipal fishing and other
yields but the irreducible minimum for his
related fishing activities.
 Municipal fishing - refers to fishing within
 Is the preferential right of subsistence or marginal
municipal waters using fishing vessels of three (3.
fishermen to the use of water resources violated?
gross tons or less, or fishing not requiring the use
of fishing vessels. No. The so-called preferential right of
subsistence or marginal fishermen to the use of
The municipal or city government may authorize or
marine resources is not at all absolute. In
permit small and medium commercial fishing vessels
accordance with the Regalian Doctrine, marine
to operate provided the following requirements are
resources belong to the State, and, pursuant to the
first paragraph of Section 2, Article XII of the
 (a) no commercial fishing in municipal waters Constitution, their exploration, development and
with depth less than seven (7) fathoms; utilization ... shall be under the full control and
supervision of the State. Moreover, their
 (b) fishing activities utilizing methods and gears mandated protection, development, and
that are determined to be consistent with national conservation as necessarily recognized by the
policies; framers of the Constitution, imply certain
 (c) prior consultation, through public hearing, restrictions on whatever right of enjoyment there
with the M/CFARMC has been conducted; and may be in favor of anyone.

 (d) the applicant vessel as well as the shipowner, Commercial Fisheries

employer, captain and crew have been certified  No person shall operate a commercial fishing
by the appropriate agency as not having violated vessel, pearl fishing vessel or fishing vessel for
this Code, environmental laws and related laws. scientific, research or educational purposes, or
 In no case shall the authorization or permit be engage in any fishery activity, or seek
granted for fishing in bays in an environmentally employment as a fishworker or pearl diver
critical condition and during closed season. without first securing a license from the DA, the
period of which shall be prescribed by the DA.
Priority of Resident Municipal Fisherfolk (Sec. 21)
 No commercial fishing vessel license shall be
Resident municipal fisherfolk of the municipality issued except to citizens of the Philippines,
concerned and their organizations/cooperatives shall have partnerships or to associations, cooperatives or
priority to exploit municipal and demarcated fishery areas corporations duly registered in the Philippines at
of the said municipality. least sixty percent (60%) of the capital stock of
which is owned by Filipino citizens.
Tano v Socrates
G.R. No. 110249, August 21, 1997  No person to whom a license has been issued
shall sell, transfer or assign, directly or indirectly,
 A marginal fisherman is an individual engaged in
his stock or interest therein to any person not
fishing whose margin of return or reward in his
qualified to hold a license. Any such transfer, sale
harvest of fish as measured by existing price
or assignment shall be null and void and shall not
levels is barely sufficient to yield a profit or cover
be registered in the books of the association,
the cost of gathering the fish.
cooperative or corporation (Sec. 27).
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Philippine Fisheries Code (R.A. No. 8550) | Lapuz | Eyana | September 2017

Persons Eligible for Commercial Fishing Vessel Section 46. Lease of Fishponds.
Fishpond leased to qualified persons and fisherfolk
 No commercial fishing vessel license shall be organizations/cooperatives shall be subject to the
issued except to citizens of the Philippines, following conditions:
partnerships or to associations, cooperatives or
(a) Areas leased for fishpond purposes shall be no more
corporations duly registered in the Philippines at
than 50 hectares for individuals and 250 hectares for
least sixty percent (60%) of the capital stock of
corporations or fisherfolk organizations;
which is owned by Filipino citizens.
(b) The lease shall be for a period of twenty-five (25)
 No person to whom a license has been issued
years and renewable for another twenty-five (25) years:
shall sell, transfer or assign, directly or indirectly,
Provided, That in case of the death of the lessee, his
his stock or interest therein to any person not
spouse and/or children, as his heirs, shall have preemptive
qualified to hold a license. Any such transfer, sale
rights to the unexpired term of his Fishpond Lease
or assignment shall be null and void and shall not
Agreement subject to the same terms and conditions
be registered in the books of the association,
provided herein provided that the said heirs are qualified;
cooperative or corporation (Sec. 27).
(c) Lease rates for fishpond areas shall be determined by
the Department: Provided, That all fees collected shall be
Section 45. Disposition of Public Lands for remitted to the National Fisheries Research and
Fishery Purposes. Development Institute and other qualified research
institutions to be used for aquaculture research
 Public lands such as tidal swamps, mangroves,
marshes, foreshore lands and ponds suitable for
fishery operations shall not be disposed or (d) The area leased shall be developed and producing on
alienated. Upon effectivity of this Code, FLA a commercial scale within three (3) years from the
may be issued for public lands that may be approval of the lease contract: Provided, however, That
declared available for fishpond development all areas not fully producing within five (5) years from the
primarily to qualified fisherfolk date of approval of the lease contract shall automatically
cooperatives/associations: revert to the public domain for reforestation;
 Provided, however, That upon the expiration of
(e) The fishpond shall not be subleased, in whole or in
existing FLAs the current lessees shall be given
part, and failure to comply with this provision shall mean
priority and be entitled to an extension of twenty-
cancellation of FLA;
five (25) years in the utilization of their respective
leased areas. Thereafter, such FLAs shall be (f) The transfer or assignment of rights to FLA shall be
granted to any Filipino citizen with preference, allowed only upon prior written approval of the
primarily to qualified fisherfolk Department;
cooperatives/associations as well as small and
medium enterprises as defined under Republic (g) The lessee shall undertake reforestation for river
Act No. 8289: banks, bays, streams, and seashore fronting the dike of his
 Provided, further, That the Department shall fishpond subject to the rules and regulations to be
declare as reservation, portions of available promulgated thereon; and
public lands certified as suitable for fishpond (h) The lessee shall provide facilities that will minimize
purposes for fish sanctuary, conservation, and environmental pollution, i.e., settling ponds, reservoirs,
ecological purposes: Provided, finally, That two etc: Provided, That failure to comply with this provision
(2) years after the approval of this Act, no fish shall mean cancellation of FLA.
pens or fish cages or fish traps shall be allowed in
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Philippine Fisheries Code (R.A. No. 8550) | Lapuz | Eyana | September 2017

Section 47. Code of Practice for Aquaculture. purpose for individual person shall be determined by the
LGUs in consultation with the concerned FARMC:
The Department shall establish a code of
practice for aquaculture that will outline general Section 53. Grant of Privileges for
principles and guidelines for environmentally-sound Operations of Fish Pens, Cages,
design and operation to promote the sustainable Corrals/Traps and Similar Structures.
development of the industry.
 No new concessions, licenses, permits,
Such Code shall be developed through a leases and similar privileges for the
consultative process with the DENR, the fishworkers, establishment or operation of fish pens,
FLA holders, fishpond owners, fisherfolk cooperatives, fish cages, fish corrals/traps and other
small-scale operators, research institutions and the similar structures in municipal areas shall
academe, and other potential stakeholders. The be granted except to municipal fisherfolk
Department may consult with specialized international and their organizations.
organizations in the formulation of the code of practice.
Fishery Reserves, Refuge and Sanctuaries
Section 49. Reversion of All Abandoned,
Undeveloped or Underutilized Fishponds. Section 80. Fishing Areas Reserves for Exclusive
Use of Government.
 The DENR, in coordination with the
The Department may designate area or areas in Philippine
Department, LGUs, other concerned
waters beyond fifteen (15) kilometers from shoreline as
agencies and FARMCs shall determine
fishery reservation for the exclusive use of the
which abandoned, underdeveloped or
government or any of its political subdivisions, agencies
underutilized fishponds covered by FLAs
or instrumentalities, for propagation, educational,
can be reverted to their original
research and scientific purposes:
mangrove state and after having made
such determination shall take all steps Provided, That in municipalities or cities, the concerned
necessary to restore such areas in their LGUs in consultation with the FARMCs may recommend
original mangrove state. to the Department that portion of the municipal waters be
declared as fishery reserves for special or limited use, for
Section 50. Absentee Fishpond Lease Agreement
educational, research, and/or special management
Holders of fishpond lease agreements
Section 81. Fish Refuge and Sanctuaries.
who have acquired citizenship in another country during
the existence of the FLA shall have their lease The Department may establish fish
automatically cancelled and the improvements thereon to refuge and sanctuaries to be administered
be forfeited in favor of the government and disposed of in in the manner to be prescribed by the
accordance with rules and regulations promulgated BFAR at least twenty-five percent (25%)
thereon. but not more than forty percent (40%) of
bays, foreshore lands, continental shelf
Section 51. License to Operate Fish Pens, Fish
or any fishing ground shall be set aside
Cages, Fish Traps and Other Structures for the
for the cultivation of mangroves to
Culture of Fish and Other Fishery Products.
strengthen the habitat and the spawning
Fish pens, fish cages, fish traps and other grounds of fish. Within these areas no
structures for the culture of fish and other fishery products commercial fishing shall be allowed. All
shall be constructed and shall operate only within marine fishery reserves, fish sanctuaries
established zones duly designated by LGUs in and mangrove swamp reservations
consultation with the FARMCs concerned consistent with already declared or proclaimed by the
national fisheries policies after the corresponding licenses President or legislated by the Congress of
thereof have been secured. The area to be utilized for this the Philippines shall be continuously
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Philippine Fisheries Code (R.A. No. 8550) | Lapuz | Eyana | September 2017

administered and supervised by the any commercial fishing activity in municipal

concerned agency: waters. Any municipal fisherfolk who commits
such violation shall be punished by confiscation
 Provided, however, That in municipal waters, the
of catch and a fine of Five hundred pesos
concerned LGU in consultation with the
FARMCs may establish fishery refuge and
sanctuaries. The FARMCs may also recommend Section 87. Poaching in Philippine Waters.
fishery refuge and sanctuaries:
 It shall be unlawful for any foreign person,
 Provided, further, That at least fifteen percent corporation or entity to fish or operate any fishing
(15%) where applicable of the total coastal areas vessel in Philippine waters.
in each municipality shall be identified, based on
 The entry of any foreign fishing vessel in
the best available scientific data and in
Philippine waters shall constitute a prima facie
consultation with the Department, and
evidence that the vessel is engaged in fishing in
automatically designated as fish sanctuaries by
Philippine waters.
the LGUs in consultation with the concerned
FARMCs. Violations:
Prohibitions and Penalties Section 88. Fishing Through Explosives, Noxious or
Poisonous Substance, and/or Electricity.
Section 86. Unauthorized Fishing or Engaging in
Other Unauthorized Fisheries Activities. Section 89. Use of Fine Mesh Net.
 No person shall exploit, occupy, produce, breed, Section 90. Use of Active Gear in the Municipal Waters
culture, capture or gather fish, fry or fingerlings and Bays and Other Fishery Management Areas.
of any fishery species or fishery products, or
engage in any fishery activity in Philippine Section 91. Ban on Coral Exploitation and Exportation.
waters without a license, lease or permit. Section 92. Ban on Muro-Ami Other Methods and Gear
 Discovery of any person in an area where he has Destructive to Coral Reefs and Other Marine Habitat.
no permit or registration papers for a fishing Section 93. Illegal Use of Superlights.
vessel shall constitute a prima facie presumption
that the person and/or vessel is engaged in Section 94. Conversion of Mangroves.
unauthorized fishing: Provided, That fishing for
Section 95. Fishing in Overfished Area and During
daily food sustenance or for leisure which is not
Closed Season
for commercial, occupation or livelihood
purposes may be allowed. Section 96. Fishing in Fishery Reserves, Refuge and
 It shall be unlawful for any commercial fishing
vessel to fish in bays and in such other fishery Section 97. Fishing Or Taking of Rare, Threatened or
management areas which may hereinafter be Endangered Species.
declared as over-exploited.
Section 98. Capture of Sabalo and Other
 Any commercial fishing boat captain or the three Breeders/Spawners.
(3) highest officers of the boat who commit any
of the above prohibited acts upon conviction shall Section 99. Exportation of Breeders, Spawners, Eggs or
be punished by a fine equivalent to the value of Fry.
catch or Ten thousand pesos (P10,000.00) Section 100. Importation or Exportation of Fish or
whichever is higher, and imprisonment of six (6) Fishery Species.
months, confiscation of catch and fishing gears,
and automatic revocation of license. Section 101. Violation of Catch Ceilings.

 It shall be unlawful for any person not listed in Section 102. Aquatic Pollution
the registry of municipal fisherfolk to engage in