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COMMERCIAL OPERATIONS SUSPENDED

BFAR sets 3-month fishing ban in southern Mindanao

/ 05:19 AM June 06, 2018

CLOSED SEASON Fishermen in Davao City clean their nets as they prepare to take a breather following the declaration of a closed fishing season in Davao Gulf. —ARJOY CENIZA

DAVAO CITY — Mackerel, scad and trevally are now off limits to more than 40,000 fishermen in southern Mindanao following the suspension of commercial fishing at the 308,000-hectare Davao Gulf from June 1 to Aug. 31.

The suspension would allow the gulf to recuperate, said Fatma Idris, regional director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR). The gulf straddles four Davao provinces and Compostela Valley.

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The fifth to be imposed since 2013, the suspension would also allow fishing for sustenance provided fishermen do not use gear such as bag nets and ring nets, Idris said.

Commercial fishing of pelagic fish like hard-tailed mackerel, round scad and purse-eyed scad has been stopped at the start of the month.

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Pelagic fish live in depths that are not close to the bottom nor near the shore.

There has been a decrease in the harvest of pelagic fish and other species at the gulf, Idris said, citing a study.

Seasonal catch

The gulf’s closed season was prompted by a Department of Science and Technology (DOST) study in 2012, which showed that the seasonal catch had gone down by more than 80 percent compared with those in the preceding years.

In Davao City, for example, the catch fell from 12 kilograms per fisherman each day in 2000 to 2 kg in 2010.

Elsie May Solidum, DOST assistant director for southern Mindanao, blamed overfishing, dynamite fishing and massive pollution in the gulf for the dwindling catch.

‘Tuna highway’

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According to the DOST study, most pelagic fish could disappear from the gulf. This had prompted BFAR and the Department of Agriculture to suspend commercial fishing at the gulf for three months.

In Davao Oriental province, local fishermen failed to take advantage of its status as the country’s “tuna highway,” due in part to the absence of appropriate sea vessels, Gov. Nelson Dayanghirang said.

He said the passage of migratory fish species off the coast of the province “offered vast potentials for fishing and aquamarine activities,” but the opportunities had been grabbed by other fishermen from areas like General Santos City.

Dayanghirang said fishermen did not have large fishing vessels so “we could not venture farther into the sea.” He said the provincial government had asked BFAR to help get large boats to enable them to tap new resources.

In April last year, the Department of Social Welfare and Development distributed 21 fishing boats to fishermen in San Isidro town in Davao Oriental. But the boats were designed for catching fish in shallow waters. —Allan Nawal

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TAGS: BFAR, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Southern Mindanao fishing ban
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