The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) on Tuesday announced the start of another closed fishing season for round scad or galunggong in northern Palawan.

The closed fishing season will be imposed to “further bolster the growing abundance” of round scad fish, according to a news release issued by the bureau on November 2.

The three-month ban, which will last until January 31, would prevent the use of purse seine, ring net, and bag net in capturing round scad in the northeastern Palawan conservation area.

The strategy, according to BFAR, is focused on safeguarding the species during its peak spawning season while also tackling overfishing, climate change, and other concerns.

“Already in its 7th year of implementation, the closed fishing season has continually yielded significant positive results in the increased catch of galunggong in the area,” noted the statement.

According to the National Stock Assessment Program of BFAR IV-B, purse seine catch estimates climbed from 233.07 metric tons (MT) in 2015 to 434.98 MT in 2020, while ring net catch estimates increased from 187.02 MT to 206.30 MT over the same time.

With 95 percent of the galunggong harvest landing at the Navotas Fish Port, Palawan is one of the key suppliers of the fish species to the highly urbanized areas of Metro Manila, BFAR said.

Department of Agriculture (DA)-BFAR National Director Eduardo Gongona said that the recorded increase in catch of galunggong became possible through the cooperation and support of the government, commercial fishers, and other stakeholders.

“We strongly urge our fisheries stakeholders to be one with the government in the implementation of the closed fishing season in Palawan. This measure will help protect the commercially-important galunggong species, ensuring its availability as part of our efforts to achieve food security and fostering sustainable growth in the galunggong industry.” Gongona said in the statement.

BFAR will give emphasis to aquaculture products as an alternative to further supplement the fish supply during the closed fishing season. It will also ensure the availability of fish products in the market through programs such as Oplan ISDA.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar, as recommended by the National Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (NFARMC), has also signed a Certificate of Necessity to Import, which will allow the importation of 60,000 MT of galunggong to the country until March 2021.

By virtue of DA-DILG Joint Administrative Order No. 1, Series of 2015, the DA-BFAR has been working with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and with the support of the fishery sector and other stakeholders through the Technical Working Group on Roundscad Fisheries Management in Palawan.