Fishers’ group warns vs fish shortage, inflation amid closed season in Visayan Sea

Published November 16, 2021, 1:01 PM

by Jhon Aldrin Casinas

The three-month closed fishing season in the Visayan Sea could trigger “artificial shortage and fuel an inflation spike,” a fisherfolk group said Tuesday, Nov. 16.

Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas

In a statement, the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said that the closed fishing season “will spark a domino effect to the fisheries output, supply, and prices of fish in the domestic market.”

“We warn against artificial shortage of fish due to the unjust closed season in one of our major fishing grounds,” Pamalakaya national chairperson Fernando Hicap said.

“Subsequently, retail prices of fish would jack up and would prompt the government to allow importation of fish that is a further threat to the local fishing industry,” he added.

According to the group, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources’ (BFAR) Fisheries Administrative Order 167-3 (FAO 167-3), which established a closed fishing season in the Visayan Sea, started on Nov. 15 and would be in effect until February next year.

“The closed season remains a scourge for the small fisherfolk who are being deprived of their fishing grounds,” said Pamalakaya-Panay spokesperson Lucia Capaducio.

“While we don’t have access to our traditional fishing waters during closed season, big fishing vessels are able to continue with their large-scale fishing expeditions; exhausting the marine resources and leaving nothing for small fishers,” she added.

The closed season prohibits catching of sardines, herring, and mackerel which are the primary catch of small fishers from the affected coastal towns surrounding the Visayan Sea, the fishers’ group said.

It added that the ban will cover five provinces and 33 coastal municipalities from Regions V, VI, and VII.

“For the record, we are not entirely against the concept of closed season, but it should exempt small fisherfolks who are not engaged in large-scale and destructive fishing unlike big commercial fishing fleets that overexploit the seas,” Hicap said.

“Closed season should be holistically integrated to sustainable fisheries production and support to small fisherfolks,” he added.