BFAR declares start of fishing season in Visayan Sea

By Philippine News Agency

ILOILO CITY -- Catching, trading, selling and marketing of sardines, herring and mackerel in the Visayas Sea is now allowed following the culmination of the three-month closed season on Monday, February 18.

“The Visayan Sea is now open for fishing. They can now catch sardines, herring and mackerel species,” said Regional Director Remia Aparri, Regional Director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR)-Western Visayas in a phone interview on Wednesday.

The three-month closed season that was mandated under Fisheries Administrative Order (FAO) 167-3 kicked off November 15 last year, which was the peak of the spawning season of the said species.

However, Aparri said their monitoring still shows that after February 15, there are still plenty of juveniles in the catch composition of fisherfolk.

She stated though that while it is ideal is not to catch them until they become mature, there is no law that prohibits such because the law says “it is open season” already.

“We have already presented this information to local government units for them to amend their ordinance but it requires consultation with stakeholders,” she said, adding that from the level of the LGU, they can pass an ordinance to declare a closed season for a certain species.

Another option, Aparri said, is to recommend before the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (FARMC) amending FAO 167-3 to prohibit the catching of juveniles at least two months after the closed season to allow them to grow.

Usually, juveniles get trapped when fishers make use of fine mesh nets, which should be banned or regulated after the closed season.

Meanwhile, the closed season resulted in an increase in fish stocks, particularly for the three fish species.

“Obviously, there was an increase in their population, which would lead to income for fisher folks when caught,” Aparri said.

Visayan Sea covers five provinces and 33 coastal towns from Regions 5, 6, and 7.

In Western Visayas, Visayan Sea starts from the waters of Barotac Nueveo, Iloilo to Manapla and Escalante in Negros Occidental and back to Gigantes Island in Carles, Iloilo and towards Roxas City in Capiz.