The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) is imposing a seasonal fishing ban on the poor man’s fish “galunggong” (round scad) northeast of Palawan on November 15 up to end of January to allow the species to regenerate.
Merna Candelario, Officer-In-Charge Center Chief of the BFAR Inland Sea Ranching Station, said the seasonal fishing ban will ensure the sustainability of galunggong’s dropping population brought by overfishing.
“By imposing this, we believe it will give galunggong the time to reproduce during its peak spawning period,” Candelario told PALAWAN NEWS.
In a BFAR study conducted from 2002 to 2012, the volume of galunggong caught in Palawan that landed in the Navotas Fish Port Complex (NFPC) showed a 40% decline from metric tons of 88,601 down to 38,842.
Candelario said their study also shows galunggong is diminishing in size; only scaling now 16.39 cm from its previous size of up to 17.6 cm.
“It means their population is sinking, and that because of overfishing they have been forced to mature when they’re not supposed to,” she said.
Palawan fishing grounds contributes 20% of the galunggong catch nationwide, while it yields 92% of total landed catch in the NFPC, the country’s premiere fish center run by the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority (PFDA).
Knowing the fact that it is considered as the poor man’s fish, Candelario added staple fish might still be available in the market since the order permits fishers to catch it using only gill nets, and provided the catch will not exceed 10% of their total catch.
Banned fishing gears, on the other hand, are ring net, bag net and purse seine, which are found to be acquiring in bulk of pelagic fishes like galunggong, she added.
To police the seas northeast of Palawan, Candelario said the bureau will dispatch patrol boats that will be roving in the area identified as the concentration of commercial and small fishing vessels.
She, however, refused to divulge yet the corresponding fines and penalties pending the formal signing of the joint administrative order by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). The signing will take place end of October.
The BFAR has been mulling the said seasonal control on galunggong since 2013, meeting defiance along the way from fisher folk groups and commercial fishing companies.
It is said that 5,000 fishermen and operators of 30 fishing vessels are expected to be affected by the temporary closure of the fishery, but Candelario said the bureau has finally reached an agreement with them during a deliberation at the National Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (NFARMC) meeting in Puerto Princesa City on October 16.