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Zamboanga fishermen get green light to cast nets

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Fishermen in the Zamboanga Peninsula can start fishing for sardines this March, as the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources officially lifted the off-season period at midnight of Thursday.

The three-month fishing ban restricted fishermen in the East Sulu Sea, Basilan Strait and Sibuguey Bay from gathering sardines off the peninsula’s coasts.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol reiterated the significance of fishing closures to the population of sardines in Zamboanga.

“There was an increase from 2015 in the catch of Sardinella lemuru [tamban]. The catch was 137,142.55 metric tons [MT]. It increased to 143,060 MT in 2016 and in 2017, rose to 152,283 MT,” Piñol said.

The department noted that not only did the fishing closure season increase the sardine population, it also made possible the sighting of big and high value fish species that feed on smaller fish like sardines.

“It is beneficial to the country because since they started the closed fishing season, the once rare big fish—tuna, salay-salay ginto [scad]—are gradually coming back to the point that even the people in Gen San [General Santos City]are getting their tuna supply from Zamboanga Peninsula,” Piñol said.

With the temporary lack of livelihood over the closed seasons, the department said fish workers may seek assistance through the Production Loan Easy Access, a special credit facility that grants non- collateralized loans for agri-fishery production.

The DA also vowed to provide P50 million worth of livelihood support to the affected fish workers and fisherfolk during closed seasons.

The sardine closed season was started in 2011 by both stakeholders and concerned government agencies.

Under the DA Joint Administrative Order 1, the closed season measure was conceived to conduct scientific research and determine the spawning months of sardines.

After three years, the bureau established a closed season for the conservation of sardines in the waters of the Zamboanga Peninsula.


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