Department of Agriculture
Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources
BFAR issued closed season in fishing at Scarborough Shoal
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources had ordered last May 15 a closed season around Bajo de Masinloc, commonly called Scarborough shoal, banning all kinds of fishing activities by municipal and commercial fishermen beginning May 16 to July 15 this year.
The fishing ban covers a total area of 90 square nautical miles of which 60 square nautical miles is the area of the Scarborough or Panatag Shoal and the remaining covers the one mile distance outside the shoal’s margins.
BFAR Director Atty. Asis G. Perez signed Fisheries Office Order No. 143 directing all its regional directors, personnel, Quick Response Teams and Philippine Coast Guard staff on-board BFAR MCS vessels to inform all fishers of the directive and cause the full compliance of the order.
The personnel are likewise directed to enlist the assistance of the Philippine Coast Guard, the Philippine National Police and the local government units to ensure the full implementation of the order.
Perez said that the issuance of the closed season is a precautionary approach for the protection and conservation of the marine resources in the area.
He added that a scientific study will be initiated by the bureau and the scientific community to come up with a complete assessment of the fisheries and marine resources in the said shoal. The results of these studies would allow government to determine additional measures to be undertaken to ensure the conservation and protection of the resources in the area.
To ensure that the livelihoods of the local marginal fisherfolk will not be affected by the fishing ban, Perez said that since last week, a total of nine units of payao, has already been deployed in the municipal waters of Sta. Cruz, Candelaria, Masinloc, Palauig and Iba in Zambales province as well as in La Union, Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte.
The livelihood initiative is attune to Pres. Benigno Aquino III directive to all its cabinet members, especially Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala to ensure that government’s assistance reached the lowly farmers and fishermen.
The payao is a fish aggregating device that would provide marginal fishermen a specific area to catch fish and only hand-line fishing is allowed. That way, the fishermen would spare smaller fishes near the water surface that serve as food for the bigger fishes occupying the bottom areas and thus make the payao more sustainable.
Director Perez said that the bureau is set to deploy a total of 200 payao in appropriate municipal waters to help ensure the safety of the fishermen now that the habagat is fast-approaching as well as to lessen the cost of fuel as this would provide them a specific location where to fish.
In a series of dialogues with the heads of the municipalities of Ilocos and Zambales provinces as well as fisherfolk representatives, Perez urged the LGUs to implement a management plan for the effective operation of the payao. “If properly managed, a payao could provide fishermen a better source of income as they could catch as much as 30 kilos or more of big fishes like tuna, marlin and the like”, he said. ###
Reference: BFAR Director Atty. Asis G. Perez – 0917-550-2424