The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) 6 recently gathered the fisheries stakeholders for the orientation on the Visayan Sea closed season, locally known as “Pahuway sang Baybay,” which started Nov. 15 and will remain in force until Feb. 15, 2024.
According to BFAR 6, this seasonal closure covers selected species only such as sardines (tuloy, tamban, tabagak), herrings (balantiyong), and mackerels (guma-a, bulao, hasa-hasa).
The portion closed for fishing of the said species starts in Danao River in Escalante City, Negros Occidental to the tip of Sta. Fe, Cebu, continuing to the northernmost tip of Madridejos, Cebu, to Gigantes Island, Iloilo, with the lighthouse as the marker.
This further connects horizontally to Olotayan Island down to Roxas City, while between Iloilo and Negros Occidental provinces, the boundary starts from Talisay River in Barotac Nuevo town to Tomonton Point in EB Magalona and closes in back to Danao River.
With this, the fisheries bureau in partnership with the local government unit (LGU) of Estancia town in Iloilo, conducted a “Hinun-anon sa Responsible nga Pagpangisda” where some 70 various fisheries stakeholders including commercial fishing vessel operators, fish traders and brokers, transporters, municipal fishers, Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (FARMC) members, Philippine National Police (PNP) officers, PNP Maritime personnel, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) officials, and Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) personnel, among others, have participated.
“Kon mahatagan sang pahuway ang aton kadagatan, dako man ang balik sini sa aton pagkatapos sang closed season (If we give rest to our seas, this will give us us back big time once the closed season is done),” said Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of the Fisheries Management Regulatory and Enforcement Division (FMRED) lawyer Jan Rey Magallosa during his message.
The forum featured a lecture on “Responsable nga Pagpangisda” with Mateo Doyola, Jr., OIC of the DA-BFAR 6 Licensing Section, highlighting the importance of non-destructive and legal gears to protect the critical habitats of fish including corals, sea grasses, and mangroves.
Meanwhile, Project Leader of the National Stock Assessment Program (NSAP) Sheryll Mesa presented the results of various studies related to the closed fishing season.
Mesa emphasized that the use of fine mesh nets may be countering the positive impact of the closure and thus, called for collective action to avoid using such gears since the use of fine mesh nets is illegal under Section 93 of the Amended Fisheries Code of the Philippines.
Popularly called the “Alaska of the Philippines,” the Estancia town also served as the venue of the dialogue with various stakeholders last year.
OIC of the Fisheries Inspection and Quarantine Services of DA-BFAR 6 Lorna Angor reiterated the previous agreements among the group including the compliance with no landing or trading of prohibited species.
She noted that should operators trade sardines, herrings, or mackerels at the Estancia Feeder port, they will be required to show their Global Positioning System (GPS) location data as proof that they fished outside the closed season area.
BFAR 6 Regional Director Remia A. Aparri, on her part, assured that the fisherfolk’s livelihood sources are still in place amid the closed season, citing that only the three identified species are prohibited from being caught during this period.
“We will continue to provide interventions and technical assistance so as to guide our fisherfolk as the rest of the Visayan waters prevail until early next year for the spawning of the said species,” said Aparri.
During the forum, the fishers likewise raised issues on their registration and permits, incidental catch composition of their non-selective gears, and securing GPS data from catcher vessels. (PIA 6 with reports from BFAR Region 6)