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BFAR lifts fishing ban in Zamboanga Peninsula

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BFAR lifts fishing ban in Zamboanga Peninsula

The Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) on Monday lifted the 10th closed fishing season for sardines in Region 9 (Zamboanga Peninsula).

For a decade now, the closed fishing season has been implemented in accordance with Bureau Administrative Circular (BAC) 255 as a marine conservation measure to help protect and conserve sardine species in the said area.

Beginning every December 1, the closed fishing season bans for three months the catching of sardines using purse seine, ringnet, bagnet and scoopnet within a conservation area covering the East Sulu Sea, Basilan Strait and Sibuguey Bay.

“By enforcing the closed season, sardines fish stocks are able to replenish and recover, ensuring the abundance of sardines and other fishery resources in the area,” said the agency in a statement.

Last year, sardine production reached an all-time high of 297,683.49 metric tons (MT) since 2011 when the closed fishing season was implemented in Zamboanga, based on the data from Region 9’s National Stock Assessment Program.

This is a significant indicator especially in sardine-rich Zamboanga waters, which account for an average production of 49.25 percent of the country’s total sardine from 2010 to 2020 based on data from the Philippine Statistics Authority.

“More than ever, now is the time to take advantage of this open fishing season to take part in ensuring the country’s food supply,” DA-BFAR National Director Eduardo Gongona said in his speech during the lifting ceremony.

With the active participation of law enforcement units, the local government, the private sector, and stakeholders, including local fisherfolk and key players in the sardine industry, the government, through the DA-BFAR, was able to implement effective conservation and management measures, including the sardine closed season.

The DA-BFAR, through the Fisheries Protection and Law Enforcement Group in Region 9, said it continues to conduct full patrol operations in support of the closed fishing season and as part of its ongoing campaign against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUUF).

For the duration of the fishing moratorium, seven apprehensions were made, but none in violation of the aforementioned circular.

The implementation of the sardine closed fishing season in the Zamboanga Peninsula as well as in other major sardine fishing grounds in the country is integrated into the National Sardines Management Plan (NSMP).

Through this initiative, the bureau aims to work towards the sustainability of the sardine industry in the country, aiming for three goals in specific: to establish improved science-based indicators for the sustainability of sardine stocks, to improve the distribution of benefits among sardine fisherfolk communities, and to strengthen science-based management for the sustainable sardine fisheries industry.