COTABATO CITY, Maguindanao: The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BFAR-ARMM) has imposed a three-month closed season for sardine (Tamban) fishing in the Sulu Sea and the Basilan Strait to allow sardines to spawn freely, a fishery official said on Tuesday.
“The annual ban is intended to conserve the population of (sardines),” Jerusalem Abdullahim, chief of the Fisheries Regulatory and Law Enforcement Division of BFAR-ARMM said.
Abdullahim said this is pursuant to Section 2 of Republic Act (RA) 8550, or the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, where sardine fishing in the area—covering the waters of East Sulu Sea, Basilan Strait, and Sibuguey Bay—is temporarily suspended to give way to the fish species’ spawning period.
The ban also includes the selling, buying and possessing of sardines caught within the conservation area.
The area closed to sardine fishing covers approximately 6,481.80 square miles in nautical terms, or 22,260.36 square kilometers.
For the fourth consecutive year, the Fisheries bureau conducted the annual ban in the area during the sardine spawning period to help increase sardine stocks within the closed sardine fishing area.
Meanwhile, the militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) accused the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Reform (BFAR) of killing small fisherfolk by imposing the closed season for tamban.
In a statement, Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France said that more than 200,000 fisherfolk in the ARMM might loss livelihoods due to the sardine fishing ban, which started on January 11 until March 31.