3-month galung­gong fish­ing ban up in northeastern Palawan

Palawan News - - FRONT PAGE - By Celeste Anna For­moso

A three-month closed fish­ing sea­son for round scad (galung­gong) will be­gin November 1 for the fourth straight year in the wa­ters of northeastern Palawan, said Wed­nes­day by Robert Abr­era, OIC as­sis­tant re­gional di­rec­tor of the Bureau of Fish­eries and Aquatic Re­sources-MI­MAROPA. Abr­era said the ban in the catch­ing of the round scad will be im­ple­mented un­til Jan­uary 31, 2019, based on the or­der is­sued by Agri­cul­ture Sec­re­tary Em­manuel Piñol to BFAR di­rec­tor Ed­uardo Gong­ona. “This fish­eries man­age­ment mea­sure is be­ing im­ple­mented again for the fourth time to pro­tect the galung­gong dur­ing its peak spawn­ing sea­son,” Abr­era said in a press con­fer­ence. He noted that af­ter three years of im­pos­ing the closed fish­ing sea­son, good-sized and ma­ture round scads have been ob­served to have re­turned in the northeastern area of the province, spilling over to some mu­nic­i­pal ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters in south­ern Palawan, and even Ulu­gan Bay in Puerto Princesa. Large pe­lagic fish like yel­lowfin tuna and blue mar­lin that feed on round scads have been ob­served too, to have gone back to Mindoro Strait, he said. Abr­era also cited the ar­rest by the Coast Guard District Palawan (CGDP) of Viet­namese fishermen in the Sulu Sea who were in pos­ses­sion of large yel­lowfin tu­nas.

“A month ago the CGDP ar­rested Viet­namese poach­ers in the Tub­bataha area, and the yel­lowfin tuna they have mea­sures al­most 100 ki­los per piece. This means they are spilling over in ar­eas in south­ern Palawan. There’s the ev­i­dence that the galung­gong pop­u­la­tion is in­creas­ing again be­cause large pe­lagic fish feed on them. It’s an in­di­rect ben­e­fit that we have ob­served,” he said. Myrna Can­de­lario, the re­gional co­or­di­na­tor for the Na­tional Stock As­sess­ment Pro­gram (NSAP) in Mi­maropa, said their study has con­firmed that the “peak spawn­ing sea­son” for round scad is in­deed November to Jan­uary in the northeastern side of the province. She said the in­creas­ing rates in the an­nual catch of round scad from 2015 to 2017 is at­trib­uted to the pos­i­tive im­pact of the closed fish­ing sea­son. From 17.6 cen­time­ters in 2015 to 2016, Can­de­lario said the length of round scad be­ing caught has in­creased to 19.4 cen­time­ters by 2016-2017. In the third year of im­ple­men­ta­tion or 2017-2018, she said they have noted that the length of round scads be­ing caught has re­gressed to around 18.8 cen­time­ters or a 0.6 cen­time­ter “slight dif­fer­ence.” How­ever, this is of no con­se­quence since the size re­mains above the “pub­lished length at first ma­tu­rity of 17.6 cen­time­ters which in­di­cates bet­ter re­pro­duc­tive ca­pac­ity.” “There are many fac­tors why their length will de­crease. One such is they are com­mer­cially ex­ploited, that’s why their pop­u­la­tion dwin­dles, and when that hap­pens, they are forced to ma­ture to re­pop­u­late,” she said. In terms of com­pli­ance, Abr­era said full pa­trol op­er­a­tions con­ducted by law en­force­ment agen­cies, such as the CGDP and the 2nd Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Unit-Mar­itime Group (2nd SOU-MG) has recorded a de­crease in the num­ber of boats in northeastern Palawan from 828 in 2015 to 2016 to 141 in 2017 to 2018. Law en­force­ment mon­i­tor­ing, he said, was ac­com­plished with the use of vis­i­ble in­frared imag­ing ra­diome­ter suite or VIIRs which cap­tures im­ages in the ocean of ves­sels that use large lights. He said the drop in the num­ber of boats present in the fish man­age­ment area de­notes that round scads can re­pop­u­late since there are fewer catch­ers. Abr­era said the closed fish­ing sea­son is needed for maybe 10 years more to guar­an­tee the re­pop­u­la­tion of the round scads not only in the wa­ters of northeastern Palawan but also in other ar­eas. While the fish­ing ban is im­posed, he said the Tech­ni­cal Work­ing Group ( TWG) has set up a plan of ac­tion to ad­dress its pos­si­ble im­pacts on the so­cioe­co­nomic well-be­ing of the res­i­dents of fish­ing com­mu­ni­ties. The TWG, com­posed among oth­ers by the Depart­ment of Trade and In­dus­try (DTI), the Depart­ment of So­cial Wel­fare and De­vel­op­ment ( DSWD), and the Depart­ment of La­bor and Em­ploy­ment (DOLE), will al­low them to ac­cess funds that can help cush­ion the im­pact of the fish­ing ban. Rosenda For­tu­nado, DTI Palawan di­rec­tor added that af­fected fishermen may also ac­cess the mi­cro­fund pro­gram Pondo sa Pag­babago at Pag-asenso (P3) of Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte. “In partnership with DOLE and DSWD, we will talk about pro­vid­ing sup­port to ar­eas with fish land­ings for the galung­gong smoked fish pro­gram. For oth­ers who wish to en­ter­prise in dried fish-mak­ing, the P3 un­der Small Busi­ness Cor­po­ra­tion is a pro­gram that can help since it of­fers low in­ter­est,” she said. Gina Ba­cosa of the Sustainable Liveli­hood Pro­gram of the DSWD in the province said they can avail of loans up to P15,000 as seed cap­i­tal in­di­vid­u­ally or as a group en­ter­prise. (PNA)

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