Close sardine fishing season nears; 30k workers affected PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 02 October 2014 11:49

Some 30,000 workers in the region’s sardine industry will again find themselves out of job before the end of 2014  up to March next year as the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources ( BFAR ) will implement the no-fishing measure for tamban or sardines.

BFAR-9 Officer-in-Charge Pedling S. Munap said the National Fisheries Regional Council held a meeting with BFAR Central Director Atty. Asis J. Perez. on September 25 -26 at a local hotel to discuss details of the no-fishing measure for tamban during its spawning season.

Normally the spawning period is from December to March and the spawning grounds stretch from Zamboanga del Norte to Tawi- Tawi.

Munap said it was decided during the meeting to start the close sardine season either on November 15 or December 1  and continue up to March or an equivalent of three months.

“The affected canning industry is composed of 12 factories in Zamboanga City and the bottled sardine producers of Dipolog City. Only big fishing commercial vessels are prohibited from catching tamban,” Munap said

He said only marginalized fishermen whose livelihood depends on small-scale fishing are allowed to catch tamban.

The Philippine Navy, Coast Guard and Maritime Police are tasked to enforce the fishing ban. They will intensify sea patrols in the said spawning areas.

BFAR had said the close sardine fishing season has led to an increase in the sardine catch in 2012.

BFAR chief Atty.Perez said the sardine catch nationwide grew by 90,000 metric tons or close to 30%. The increase came just a year after the implementation of a government conservation measure to protect declining commercial fish stocks in the country.

“We are looking at the scientific correlations of the closure to the 10% increase in local tuna catch and landings (also last year),” Perez said, adding that a similar conservation measure is being implemented in the Visayas.

The Philippines produces close to 400,000 metric tons of sardines and herring-like species every year, with the majority of the catch ending up in sardine canning factories.

Eleven of the country’s 12 sardine canning plants are located in the Zamboanga peninsula. Among the canning plants is Permex, the producer of the MEGA sardine brands.

Manufacturers told fisheries officials that sardine deliveries to the canning plants in Zamboanga increased by 25 to 30 per cent in 2012. The period was the first immediate season after the closure was first implemented in 2011.

Perez said neighboring Malaysia and Indonesia are impressed with the country’s success in conserving sardine stocks and may adopt similar measures.

“We have common stocks with Malaysia and Indonesia,” Perez said.

He said that the Zamboanga peninsula reported the highest compliance rate among the areas covered by the closure.

The country’s largest concentration of sardines is found in Zamboanga Peninsula, Sulu Sea and Basilan Strait .The areas are also along spawning grounds of yellowfin tuna and other tuna-like species. — Allen Abastillas