PUERTO PRINCESA CITY: The multi-sectoral and inter-disciplinary body Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) will push for the implementation of the seasonal fishing ban on the reef-fish-for food (RFF) after May next year to save fish production from dwindling.
PCSD executive director Nelson Devanadera said that although the implementation was stalled this year, the policy has been approved and has to be implemented on species of grouper, whose populations have greatly declined due to over extraction and coral habitat destruction.
He said they will put the police in place by June 30, 2016 to give way to a transition period after the national elections.
In October this year, the PCSD approved an “Open/Close Fishing Season” policy in Palawan, particularly on the catching of red-orange leopard coral trout or red suno (Plectropomus leopardus), after findings that its population have decreased.
When imposed, the open season will be from January 1 to June 15, and September 1 to October 15. The close season is from June 16 to August 31, and October 16 to December 15.
This means that the PCSD will also put restraint on the periods of validity of permits necessary for catching live fish.
However, the implementation of the policy was suspended following remonstrations by live fish traders, who claimed the fishing season ban will definitely exterminate their and the livelihood of small-scale fishermen.
But Devanadera insisted that they have beforehand responded to the concerns of the live fish traders, and next year is the time for the strict implementation of the policy to give the grouper species the opportunity to have a breather from over fishing.
“They have raised their concerns and we have already responded through several… series of public consultation. It was approved by the PCSD for implementation,” he stated with finality.
Devanadera said that although there will be a fishing ban, the PCSD is also seriously considering the possibility of grouper culturing to fill what will be perceived as a gap in the live fish industry by the traders.
However, before culturing is alloweda strict policy should be imposed too.
“Before culturing is applied strict law enforcement must be done because of the importation. We need to know the exact number of accredited growers,” Devanadera added.
Earlier, the PCSD said that if any fishing control policy is not imposed fish production in Palawan is heading towards destruction five to 10 years from now.
This was reportedly due to the effects of climate change in the sea, and that 50% of the destruction of coral reefs is due to the live fish industry.
In a 2009 research conducted by the PCSD Staff, it discovered that coral damages being in “fair to poor condition” soared to 86.63%, or 707.513 km2, while only 13.37%, or 109.234 km2 remain unspoiled, or in good excellent condition.
From 2.9% in 2011, only 1.1% of coral reefs stay unspoiled. Although Palawan continues to be the leading source of RFF, this may soon be lost due to the rapidity in fish decline.
This is especially because fishermen no longer discriminate between undersized and oversized RFF.