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Philippines
Wednesday, April 17, 2024

President mulls fishing ban

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Stresses need to stop overfishing, boost fish supply, ensure food security

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. is considering seasonal fishing bans in breeding areas to address overfishing and boost aquaculture.

Mr. Marcos stressed the need to increase fish supply as part of efforts to ensure food security.

“Sometimes, it is necessary not to catch all the fish so we would still have stock in the next season. So, that’s what we’re looking at now,” he said Tuesday in Zamboanga City.

“And there are places that should not be used for fishing because it is for breeding [and] to increase the population of fish. So that’s what we’re planning,” the President added.

Mr. Marcos lamented that Filipino fisherfolk face several challenges, including low catch, because of the destruction of breeding areas.

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He said the government is also implementing programs to put up more cold storage facilities to prevent spoilage, as he noted that up to 30 percent of fish catch is degraded or damaged.

“So, we are building cold storage. In the small fish ports, we will provide an ice maker, they will have ice in their boats to preserve their catch,” Mr. Marcos said.

“Then what we will do next after that is the processing in just one place. That’s what we are planning for fisheries.”

Marcos said imposing several restrictions is part of the government’s plan of securing the country’s fish supply, stressing that developing the Philippine agriculture not only means securing the supply of agricultural commodities, such as rice and corn, but also involves improving the fishery and the livestock sectors.

The Food and Agriculture Organization reported that the Philippines is the tenth largest marine capture producer in the world, given the country’s vast aquatic resources which include 2,200,000 square kilometers of Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), 36,289 km of coastline length, and approximately 1,499,303 hectares of inland waters.

However, despite the country’s enormous marine resource potential, the share of the fishing and aquaculture sector to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is relatively small and usually with negative growth, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) admitted.

BFAR has been imposing a selective fish ban annually for three months, starting end-November to February of the following year.

The closed season for “tamban” or sardines restricts commercial fishers from harvesting sardines to allow the species to repopulate as part of the country’s sustainable fish management.

However, fisher groups have requested the national government to develop the aquaculture and fisheries sector to supplement marine catches.

Given the declining marine capture production and the shortage in the annual per capita supply vis-a-vis per capita demand of fish in the country, the government should institute policies that will promote rapid growth in the aquaculture industry, especially milkfish and tilapia, BFAR said.

Fishers have also sought government aid to build more fisheries infrastructure like regional and local fish ports based on the volume of aquaculture and commercial capture, according to a study by economist Dr. Karlo Adriano.

The construction of more mariculture parks with integrated and breeding hatchery facilities will also help the sector produce and supply eggs and fries to other hatcheries, while more cold chain infrastructure and capacity will also help preserve the quality of the fish and reduce the spoilage rate, his study said.

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