Department of Agriculture
Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources
October 23, 2012
Agri Sec appeals support for expanded sardine ban
Agriculture Secretary Proceso G. Alcala announced that the closed season for sardine fishing this year will be expanded to include the Visayan Seas in addition to the Zamboanga waters covered by the fishing ban last year.
Alcala made the announcement last October 17, 2012 in Quezon City during the launching of the 5-year ECOFISH Project of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and the USAID. This was alongside BFAR’s celebration of its 49th Fish Conservation Week. Alcala said that this measure is necessary to ensure a more comprehensive management approach for sardine fisheries, noting the extent of its spawning grounds.
He added that scientific studies undertaken by the agency, as well as other research institutions, indicated that the three major species of sardines such as fimbriated sardines (tunsoy), Indian sardines (tamban) and round herring (tulis) in the waters of Zamboanga and the Visayan Seas belong to one stock only. This means that the fish breed and spawn at the same time.
The Visayan Seas straddle across four regions in the country – Bicol, Western Visayas, Central Visayas and Eastern Visayas. Together with the ARMM, these regions contribute some 30-35 percent of the total sardine production. Zamboanga Peninsula, on the other hand, provides 40-45 percent of the total catch.
BFAR implemented the sardine closed season in East Sulu Sea, Basilan Strait and Sibuguey Bay from December 1 last year to Feb. 28 this year. The closed season will again take effect in 3 months time as stipulated in the Joint DILG-DA Administrative Order No. 1 s. 2011.
A simultaneous schedule is also being eyed for the Visayan Seas. Fisheries Administrative Order No. 167 stipulates that the area covered by the closed season starts from the mouth of Danao River on the northeastern tip of the Bantayan Island to Madridejos, thru the light house on the Gigantes Island to Clutaya Island, to Culasi Point in Capiz Province, coastward along the northern coast of Capiz to Bulacaue Point in Carles, Iloilo, southward along the eastern coast of Iloilo to the mouth of Talisay River, westward across Guimaras Strait to Tomonton Point in Occidental Negros, eastward along the northern coast of the Island of Negros and back to the mouth of Danao River in Escalante, Negros Occidental.
“The collaboration between the local government units, private fishing companies, law enforcers and all other stakeholders was very impressive. Compliance was close to 100 percent,” said Alcala.
“It is worth noting that because of this compliance, the increase in sardine production is very impressive even within a short period following the lifting of the ban,” he added.
The latest data on sardine production in Zamboanga Peninsula showed an increase of 13 percent from 63,351 metric tons in the second quarter of 2011 to 72,446 metric tons in the same quarter of this year according to the Bureau of Agriculture Statistics.
Sardines, which include herring, are a major food fish species constituting close to 20 percent of the total catch from municipal and commercial sector in 2010. In Zamboanga peninsula, close to 30, 000 direct and indirect workers rely on the sardine industry for their living and/or livelihoods.
The management of our fisheries stocks has to be made more comprehensive to ensure sustainability. In the case of sardines stocks, improving its yield is also expected to bring about a significant increase in tuna production because tunas feed primarily on sardines,” Perez added.
The BFAR is currently undertaking consultations with the different LGUs and the stakeholders to ensure that the implementation of the closed season will run smoothly.