The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) lifted on Monday the temporary ban on round scad (galunggong) fishing in the waters off northeastern Palawan.
The three-month closed season for galunggong, which began in November last year, is an initiative by both the fishing sector and the government through the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and BFAR to secure increased and long-term supply of the said fish species.
“We are glad to note the fishing operators were fully engaged during the data gathering, planning, and actual implementation of the closed season. We are also optimistic that we will be able to replicate in Palawan the successes we had from previous closed seasons in the Visayan Sea, Davao Gulf and Zamboanga Peninsula,” BFAR National Director Asis Perez said.
Perez, who is also the concurrent Agriculture Undersecretary for Fisheries, said the closed season for commercial fishing vessels aims to conserve marine resources, to secure the spawning period of pelagic fishes in the area, and continuously implement measures to address illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
Once a very popular source of fish protein among Filipino households, the volume of galunggong has declined in recent years. Even round scad-rich Palawan has also suffered.
Production data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed a 40-percent decrease of galunggong caught in the waters of Palawan and landed in Navotas from 2002 to 2012.
BFAR’s National Stock Assessment Program likewise indicated overfishing of galunggong on the said fishing ground.
Perez said this prompted the government to implement the closed season, the same conservation measure that was earlier used to protect sardines and other pelagic species during their spawning period.
For the fifth consecutive year, BFAR has been regularly implementing a seasonal three-month fishing ban in major fishing grounds in the country to determine the best management strategy that would ensure the sustainability and conservation of sardines, herring, and other small pelagic fish species.
The agency earlier said the success of the closed season, by facilitating the natural progression of fish breeding cycle, has led to the resurgence of tamban and galunggong, attracting more tuna that feed on them.
At present, BFAR is implementing a three-month closed season for sardine fishing off Sulu Sea and Basilan Strait in Mindanao, which started on January 11 and will end on March 31.
BFAR said that the three-month ban on sardine fishing off Sulu Sea and Basilan Strait would allow the fish to spawn freely and to conserve its population. It is the fifth annual ban imposed by the fishery office during the spawning period that starts in December and ends in March.
The ban also covers Sibuguey Bay in Zamboanga Sibugay, which has a total of approximately 6,481.80 square nautical miles or 22,260.36 square kilometers.
As a means to cover the supply of fish during the implementation of the closed seasons in several of the country’s fishing grounds, Perez said the government is intensifying its support for the aquaculture subsector.
In fact, the BFAR chief said that in the newly updated Comprehensive National Fisheries Industry Development Plan (CNFIDP) 2016-2020, which the fisheries stakeholders crafted in the last quarter of 2015, the aquaculture subsector has laid out its targets and action plans to improve and augment production among other things for the next five years.
Perez said the agency maintains equally sturdy support for the other three fisheries subsectors—post-harvest, marketing and capture fisheries, in which the closed seasons are implemented.
BFAR is set to launch CNFIDP 2016-2020 during the National Fisheries Industry Summit on February 3, 2016 at the Philippine Trade Training Center, Pasay City.