Sardine fishing in Zamboanga Peninsula will finally resume after the Department of Agriculture – Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) lifted the three-month closed fishing season on Monday, March 1.
“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 B. Gongona said during the lifting ceremony.
The three-month fishing ban was meant to replenish and recover stocks to ensure the abundance of sardines and other fishery resources in the area.
Beginning every December 1, the closed fishing season bans 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.
Data from Region IX’s National Stock Assessment Program showed an upward trend in sardine production with the volume reaching an all-time high of 297,683.49 metric tons (MT) in 2020 since the fishing ban was first implemented in 2011.
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, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said.
According to BFAR, full patrol operations were conducted during the closed season that led to seven apprehensions.
For a decade now, the closed fishing season has been implemented under the Bureau Administrative Circular (BAC) No. 255 as a marine conservation measure to help protect and conserve sardine species in the Zamboanga Peninsula.
The BFAR said the annual fishing ban also aims to establish improved science-based indicators for the sustainability of sardine stocks, to improve distribution of benefits among sardine fisherfolk communities, and to strengthen science-based management for sustainable sardine fisheries industry.