Fishermen, BFAR: ‘Tamban’ shortage just an excuse to enter municipal waters

·3 min read
A vendor sells fish at a market in Quezon City suburban Manila September 16, 2008. Fishermen in the Philippines belie that there is a shortage of sardines in the country. (PHOTO: JAY DIRECTO/AFP via Getty Images)
A vendor sells fish at a market in Quezon City suburban Manila September 16, 2008. Fishermen in the Philippines belie that there is a shortage of sardines in the country. (PHOTO: JAY DIRECTO/AFP via Getty Images)

Progressive fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), or the Federation of Small Fisherfolk Organizations in the Philippines, has said that municipal waters should remain exclusive for small fishermen.

This is in response to claims of a possible shortage in sardine products by some manufacturers earlier.

In a statement on Tuesday (Sep 6), Pamalakaya national chairperson Fernando Hicap said that the alleged shortage of tamban (sardines) – which is used to make canned sardines – is only an excuse for big fishing companies to enter municipal waters where small fisherfolks rely on for living.

“Operators of commercial fishing vessels should not take advantage of this alleged tamban shortage to push their legal entry [into] the municipal fishing zone,” Hicap said.

“Big fishing vessels remain to be one of the major threats to small fishers because their large-scale and even destructive operations exhaust and exploit the fishery and marine resources,” he added.

The fisherfolk organization noted that commercial fishing vessels should not be allowed to enter within the 15-kilometer municipal fishing grounds from the coastline.

Hicap further said that the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) reported a 222.58% sufficiency level of tamban for the first quarter of 2022.

“The BFAR should remain vigilant against this fabricated tamban shortage that will only favor the big-fishing firms and operators over the interests of small fishers and consumers,” he said.

‘No shortage of tamban

On Monday (Sep 5), BFAR spokesperson Nasario Briguera denied that alleged shortage of tamban supply, also claiming that the issue is only being floated by manufacturers to allow commercial fishing in municipal waters.

"First, I am categorically denying that we have a shortage in the supply of tamban. In fact, based on our data, we have a sufficiency level of more than 200 percent and 100 percent sufficiency for the first and second quarters of 2022, respectively," Briguera said.

He added that BFAR is still implementing its yearly closed season to allow fish species such as tamban to reproduce.

"The closed season for tamban is being implemented yearly. Based on the study, the stocks of tamban have improved since the implementation of the conservation measures," the spox said.

Galunggong importation

BFAR added that they still have no plans to import galunggong (round scad fish) as the fish currently found in markets is still part of the previous importation.

"At present, there is no plan to import galunggong. The imported galunggong now being sold in the local market were still part of the previous importation," Briguera said.

Meanwhile, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. who also heads the Department of Agriculture (DA) said that he sought help from Indonesia to expand the Philippines’ fisheries sector because of galunggong importation.

Nagpatulong ako sa fisheries kasi obsessed doon ako sa Pilipinas nag-iimport ng galunggong eh. Hindi ko talaga matanggap ‘yan eh. So, I asked for help because matibay ang fisheries nila. So ang sabi ko we can exchange delegations,” Marcos Jr. said.

(I asked for help in fisheries because I’m obsessed that the Philippines imports round scad fish. I can’t accept that. So I asked for help because their fisheries are strong. So I said we can exchange delegations.)

The fishing sector is currently asking for fuel subsidies amid skyrocketing oil prices.

“No one is exempted from the oil price increases, so we are calling on the department to increase the budget for fuel assistance and other stimulus programs to boost agriculture and fisheries production,” Pamalakaya’s Hicap said earlier.

Pola Rubio is a news writer and photojournalist covering Philippine politics and events. She regularly follows worldwide and local happenings. She advocates for animal welfare and press freedom. Follow her on Twitter @polarubyo for regular news and cat postings. The views expressed are her own.

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