THE Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) 7 called on stakeholders to push for management and conservation measures that would reinforce the lifting of the closed season policy in a portion of the Visayan Sea.
BFAR 7 Director Allan Poquita urged local officials and the City or Municipal Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Councils (FARMC) in the involved areas to initiate or revive legislation that would ensure that fish stocks in the Visayan Sea are managed properly.
He said that this move will help sustain the livelihood of the small-scale or municipal fisherfolk.
Poquita also said that the proper management of fish stocks is timely as more people may rely on fish meat with the emergence of the African swine flu and other animal diseases.
“The closed season in a portion of the Visayan Sea has ended officially on Feb. 15. We have guarded our waters to make sure that the protected species could spawn and grow in number and we do not want to waste our efforts,” he said.
He also called on partner local government organizations (LGUs) and other stakeholders to do their share in conserving marine resources to avoid overfishing.
According to BFAR 7, fishers are now allowed to catch certain pelagic species, namely sardines, herrings, and mackerels, which typically experience their annual spawning period in the Visayan Sea from Nov. 15 to Feb. 15.
But for three months, the young species would not yet fully mature and the fisherfolk tends to increase effort in catching these species after being restricted for three months.
Poquita said that local officials may set an extension of the closed season to give more time for the young fish to grow into "marketable" size, which could be of higher value and an advantage to the fishermen's income.
He said that if this is not possible, officials can impose stringent measures to ban the catching of juvenile fish.
“Juvenile fish may still turn into adult species that could lay eggs, sustaining further the fish population in the Visayan Sea, which is one of the country’s largest fishing grounds,” he said.
In the absence of national legislation, he said local officials and FARMC officers may come up with or enact an ordinance or local orders that would establish these policies, provide prohibitions, and stipulate sanctions for violators. (NRC/With WBS, PR)