3-month galunggong fishing ban up in northeastern Palawan
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)