Seasonal closed fishing season for sardines is over

Published March 3, 2021, 5:30 AM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

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

The closed fishing season is being implemented in accordance with Bureau Administrative Circular (BAC) No. 255 as a marine conservation measure to help protect and conserve sardine species in the Zamboanga Peninsula.

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.

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 2011, the year when the implementation of the closed season was started in Zamboanga.

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.” BFAR National Director Eduardo B. Gongona said.

Adding that 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 BFAR, was able to implement effective conservation and management measures, including the sardine closed season.

In support of the closed fishing season and as part of its ongoing campaign against Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing (IUUF), the BFAR, through the Fisheries Protection and Law Enforcement Group in Region 9, continues to conduct full patrol operations. During the closed fishing season, seven apprehensions were made, but none in violation of BAC 255.

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).

With this plan in place, BFAR 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 distribution of benefits among sardine fisherfolk communities, and to strengthen science-based management for sustainable sardine fisheries industry.