The following instructions represent our best understanding for how to obtain a gratuitous research permit from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR). These instructions only apply to scientific study of organisms that are regulated by BFAR.
Obtaining a Gratuitous Permit
Obtaining Prior Informed Consent (PIC) - by Malin Pinsky
Obtaining a Commodity Clearance for export of tissue samples - by Eric Crandall
Instructions for obtaining a gratuitous permit from BFAR:
Pursuant to the provision of Section 15 of R.A. 9147 known as "The Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act" and its implementing rules and regulations, the following are the requirements for Scientific Research on Wildlife:
1. Letter of Intent from the proponent;
2. A local institution must be identified as a research collaborator or counterpart for foreign entity together with a letter, together with a letter of consent of the head of such local institution; This can be the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute or any local university or NGO.
3. Brief description of the research activity/proposal, containing the purpose and methodology; specific areas of collection; significance of results.
4. Endorsement letter of the head of the institution or department where the proponent is affiliated; for individual research from a recognized expert of a research institution;
The above items can be submitted to Edwyn B. Alesna of the Fisheries Quarantine and Wildlife Regulations Section (edwyn_alesna(at)yahoo.com)
Once these have been received, you will be asked to execute a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the Department of Agriculture Secretary and your institution. This can take two or three months. You must also get a letter of endorsement from the BFAR director for the issuance of a gratuitous permit.
Obtaining Prior Informed Consent
The Philippines has decentralized almost all marine management to the level of municipalities or local government units (LGU). Prior Informed Consent (PIC)must be obtained from each LGU, to collect within their municipal waters.Each PIC had to be submitted to BFAR to comply with the terms of the GP and the MoA.
While CTPIRE has benefited from the direct assistance of BFAR and NFRDI in obtaining PICs, this will not be the case for projects of smaller scale. The following are instructions from Malin Pinsky, a graduate student at Stanford University.
Getting a PIC from a municipality required:
A letter to the mayor to request a meeting (fax, LBC, or hand-delivered)
Phone calls to schedule a date and time
A meeting with the mayor and other members of the municipality
An attendance sheet from the meeting
Signing the PIC forms
Notarizing the PIC
Submitting the PIC packet (signed PIC, minutes, photos, and attendance) as scanned, emailed documents to BFAR
I co-signed all of my letters to mayors with my local collaborators because the mayor’s offices were more familiar with their work than with me, and their support helped smooth the introduction. Phone calls, and sometimes confirmation phone calls, were often crucial to verify that the mayor, or an appropriate representative, would be at the meeting when I arrived. A meeting could take an hour or two, though much of that would be waiting, or getting introduced to other people working on marine management in the town. Face time with the mayor was usually 10-30 minutes. As my collection sites were spread fairly far apart, I could usually only schedule two meeting a day. I notarized the PICs at the Cebu City Hall (the process is much simpler than notarization in the US), though notary publics can be found in most towns.
While time-consuming, the large benefit of securing PICs from each town was the level of local cooperation that was almost always enthusiastically offered. The Mayor often requested someone from the Municipal Agricultural Office to accompany us during our research and to help us arrange logistics (transportation, boats, housing, etc.). This made the process of research incredibly smooth, whereas logistics in our many research sites would have been difficult without this local support. In return, the municipalities requested copies of my research report.
Overall, I took four weeks to get 18 PICs in the central Philippines, criss-crossing three provinces and taking more bus and ferry rides than I can remember.
Obtaining a Commodity Clearance
1. Make a list of the samples you wish to take, itemized by species, and give the number of samples for each species, the exporter and consignee's names (can be the same), the overseas address where the samples will reside, and departure date.
2. 1. Contact the local BFAR office. If you are in Manila, contact the Fisheries Quarantine Division at 02-426-6532. Provide them with your list of samples that you would like to carry out of the country, together with a copy of your gratuitous permit and MOA. If you are outside of Manila, the local BFAR office may provide you with the commodity clearance on the spot. If you are in Manila, they will provide you with a letter of endorsement (or just a phone call) to to the One Stop Export Permit Office.
3. Take your list together with your endorsement letter and copy of GP to the One Stop Export Permit Office, which is behind the Philippines Trade Training Center (PTTC) off of Roxas Blvd. Ask to see Ms. Farrida Batolos, who will issue the commodity clearance.
4. Be aware that all samples remain the property of the Philippines Government, even when taken out of the country.