Celso intercedes to diffuse BFAR-canning factories row PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 20 August 2011 17:46

Amid the raging controversy over the period of the close season for commercial fishing, Mayor Celso Lobregat Thursday sought to diffuse the tension brewing between the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and the canning factories and commercial fishermen in the City.

Per request of Mayor Lobregat, BFAR Director Asis Perez is set to come to Zamboanga next week to dialogue with Industrial Group of Zamboanga including representatives of canning factories and commercial fishing to discuss solutions to the problem.

“Because if both the BFAR and the canneries insist in their positions the one that will be affected will be the consuming public in general,” the mayor said in a press briefing Thursday night stressing that immediate effects would be the increase in prices of sardines and the expected layoffs.

The controversy stemmed from the BFAR’s supposed directive, though yet to be signed, moving the close season for commercial fishing from December to March to November to February, a move that is strongly opposed by the canning factories and commercial fishermen and other stakeholders. The oppositors claim they were not
consulted on the issue and that because of the change their operations will be greatly affected.

The oppositors insist that the close season should begin in December to give them ample time to prepare while the BFAR stands pat on its position that the close season starts in November citing scientific and empirical data. 

Lobregat on Thursday burned the lines to get the consensus of the BFAR director and Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala in Manila and the representative of the Industrial group in Zamboanga about a proposed dialogue/consultation to be held in the city to address the situation.

“I will be inviting Dir. Perez here in Zambo to meet with the canning factories and also the commercial fishermen to find a solution to the problem because if both the BFAR and the canneries insist on their positions the one that will be affected will be the consuming public in general”, the mayor said.

In their talk (through telephone), the mayor said, both Dir. Perez and Engr. George Ledesma of the Industrial Group have agreed that in the meantime they will be keeping an open mind on the issue and that whatever will come out of the dialogue will be something that will benefit the majority.

The idea of having a close season for fishing is purely for preservation and ensuring the sustainability of the operations of not only the commercial fishermen but also the canning factories. “We don’t want a situation that for how many years there have been overfishing and that fish products fish resources are not allowed to spawn,” the mayor said.

This is the reason, he said, why the city government has been very active in trying to promote the sustainability of the industry. “We are the Sardine Capital of the Philippines and we want to make sure that we remain the Sardine Capital”.

Meanwhile, the chief executive said government agencies are looking for possible trainings for alternate livelihood activities for the workers during the close season.  Some 20, 000 to 30, 000 workers are said to be dependent on the canning industry. — Sheila Covarrubias