The Sangguniang Panlalawigan has approved a new ordinance regulating the trade of puerulus fry and spiny lobster throughout Palawan, including the setting of a minimum buying price intended to protect lobster gatherers and ensure the sustainability of the species.
The newly enacted Provincial Ordinance No. 2475 sets a standard in the buying price of lobster at not lower than P100, which may be adjusted based on the recommendation of the Provincial Lobster Fry Price Coordinating Council (PLFPCC) that will be created as a new regulatory body.
The provincial government may also declare closed season and areas and impose quotas and moratorium subject to consultations with relevant stakeholders.
The provisions of the ordinance will be additional regulatory policies on top of existing regulations provided under the existing Fishery Administrative Order 265 pertaining to the catching, possession, transporting, selling, trading and exporting of puerulus, juvenile and gravid spiny lobsters, as well as an administrative order previously issued by the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD).
The ordinance now requires traders to secure transport permits issued by the Office of the Provincial Agriculture (OPA) before they can transport lobster to any part of the country.
Traders are also required to register and secure an accreditation directly from the Sangguniang Panlalawigan’s Committee on Agriculture and Aquatic Resources as well as the OP, and finally, an approval from the governor of Palawan.
Registered and accredited traders are required to submit monthly reports specifying their activities including volume of lobsters traded.
Lobsters are among the most sought after and high-value marine products both in the local and international markets, with increasing demand resulting to high level of fishing pressure which involves indiscriminate catching, selling and trading.
There are five common species of spiny lobster (Palinuridae) in the country, namely ornate spiny lobster, scalloped spiny lobster, long-legged spiny lobster, painted spiny lobster, and pronghorn spiny lobster.
There is also a prospect to develop sustainable lobster aquaculture due to its high species diversity and availability.
Large volume of the spiny lobsters are being collected in most southern municipalities of the province such as Aborlan, Narra, Sofronio Espanola, Quezon, Brooke’s Point, and Bataraza.
“During the pandemic, the spiny lobster has been proven as an economic engine in the southern Palawan because of its utility as commercially viable marine species,” the ordinance noted.
Board Member Ryan Maminta said the setting of a minimum buying price of lobster per individual was intended to benefit the fisherfolk’s families.
“There is no known regulation on the sizes of lobster collected which leads to indiscriminate collections of egg-bearing and small sized or less than 12 centimeters. [There is also no control] on the volume of lobster catching that causes gradual depletion of marine resources,” Maminta said.