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Rising trend in Sardine production observed

Sardine production
Sardine production

QUEZON CITY, Philippines – The sardine closed season in Zamboanga peninsula has significantly increased sardine catch since its implementation three years ago, the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) said.

BFAR national director Asis G. Perez said that the success of the sardine closed season is the result of the unyielding cooperation between local government units, partner agencies and stakeholders.

“For three years now, we see reports of an increased volume in sardine production supported by testimonies from the fisherfolk as well as sardine operators. This, indeed, affirms our decision to establish a closed season for the conservation of sardines,” said Perez.

Under the Joint DA-DILG Administrative Order or JAO-1 s. 2011, sardine fishing in the waters of East Sulu Sea, Basilan Strait and Sibuguey Bay is temporarily suspended for three months from December 1 to March 1 in order to give way to the fish species’ spawning period.

Comparison of annual figures from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) of previous years shows that sardine catch for both commercial and municipal fisheries in Zamboanga grew by 6.34% in 2012 with a total production of 156,143.01 MT against 2011’s 146,835.66 MT. A decline of 2.83%, however, was recorded for the year 2013 with 151,720.32 MT as a result of reduced fishing trips due to weather disturbances and typhoons.

The hike in the population of sardines particularly “tamban” or Indian sardine was likewise felt in nearby regions 10 and 11. BAS data, in fact, indicated a rising trend for sardine production in region 10 which started from 18,559 MT in 2011 to 20, 705.85 MT in 2012 and finally, 22, 911.51 MT in 2013. Davao Region has also registered 72.14% increase in sardine production from 1, 767.96 MT in 2012 to 3, 043.43 MT in 2013. Perez said that this is a possible spill-over effect of the previous closed seasons in Zamboanga.

Amid ongoing tension between military troops and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) fighters in Zamboanga City last year, BFAR implemented the third sardine closed season on December 1, 2013. It was lifted, three months later, on March 1, 2014.

Meanwhile, the bureau is currently conducting scientific research and assessment in the waters off the coast of Palawan as basis for the establishment of a closed season for round scad or more commonly known as galunggong.

Criselda Cabangon David, a happy mother of two kids, is a full-time Sociologist at the City Government of Lucena, Quezon Province. She is currently the Managing Editor of Ang Diaryo Natin Sunday News, a weekly local community newspaper in the Philippines and an active member of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.