DA-BFAR LIFTS 7TH ZAMBOANGA CLOSED SEASON FOR SARDINES
The Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources has lifted the fishing closed season for sardines in the waters off Zamboanga peninsula midnight of March 1, 2018.
Commercial fishers may resume their operations in the waters of East Sulu Sea, Basilan Strait and Sibuguey Bay following a three-month ban on sardine fishing.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol, who joined the opening ceremony with local government units, fisherfolk and fishing companies in Zamboanga today, affirms the significant impact of fishing closures to the population of sardines in Zamboanga peninsula.
“There was an increase from 2015 in the catch of Sardinella lemuru (tamban). The catch was 137, 142.55 metric tons (MT). Umakyat ito to 143, 060 MT noong 2016 at noong 2017, mas lalong tumaas sa 152, 283 MT,” (It increased to 143, 060 MT in 2016 and in 2017, rose to 152, 283 MT) he said.
The management measure did not only result in increased sardine population. Piñol said fishing corporations in Zamboanga reported increased sighting of big and high value fish species that feed on small fishes like sardines.
“It is beneficial to the country because since they started the closed fishing season, the once rare big fish—tuna, salay-salay ginto (scad)—are gradually coming back to the point that even the people in Gen San (General Santos City) are getting their tuna supply from Zamboanga peninsula,” Piñol said.
The DA chief then assuages concerns over the fisherfolk’s lack of livelihood during closed seasons when they cannot go out to the open sea to fish sardines. He said fish workers may seek assistance through the Production Loan Easy Access (PLEA) program by the Department of Agriculture, a special credit facility which grants non-collateralized loans for agri-fishery production. The department has also promised 50 million pesos worth of livelihood support to the affected fish workers and fisherfolk during closed seasons.
The Sardine Closed Season was initiated by stakeholders and the government in 2011. Under the DA-DILG Joint Administrative Order 1, the sardine closed season was implemented to conduct scientific research and determine the spawning months of sardines. After three years, BFAR issued an Administrative Circular (BAC) 255 that established a closed season for the conservation of sardines in the waters of Zamboanga peninsula.
Closed fishing seasons are also observed in other fishing grounds like the Visayan Sea, Northeastern Palawan, Davao Gulf and other parts of the country. DA-BFAR’s incentive-based program, Malinis at Masaganang Karagatan, lists the observance of closed seasons as one of the five criteria in the search for the country’s most outstanding coastal community.
(Photos from BFAR's Information and Fisherfolk Coordination Unit)