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Government urged to implement sardine management plan

Catherine Talavera - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Marine conservation group Oceana Philippines is urging the government to hasten the implementation of the National Sardine Management Plan amid the decline of sardines in Bicol and Samar.

“We strongly urge the?implementation of the National Sardine Management Plan in ?Fisheries Management Areas?to?stop the dangerous decline of our sardine resource,” Oceana vice president Gloria Estenzo Ramos said.

Ramos made the call as a recent study by Oceana showed that sardine stocks in Bicol and Samar, which are under Fisheries Management Area 7 (FMA7), were on the decline.

“Many Filipinos depend on sardines not only for food but also for livelihood, making this?one of the most?important resources?in achieving food security in the country. It is therefore imperative that the government safeguards our sardine species?that are now on the verge of collapse,” Ramos said.

The National Sardine Management Plan aims to? improve science-based indicators for the sustainability of fish stocks and distribution of benefits among sardine fisherfolk communities and strengthen science-based management for sustainable sardine fisheries by the end of 2025.?

Oceana’s latest study monitored the fishing grounds of FMA 7, particularly from?Balatan?in Camarines Sur, Pio Duran in Albay, Monreal?in?Ticao?Island, and the main station for fishing vessel operations in?Bulan, Sorsogon.

GPS trackers were installed on fishing vessels operating in the area and allowed the team to monitor fishing activities in FMA 7 over time.

“Through this, the team discovered that 60 percent of the total 60,000 metric?tons?caught in FMA 7 were from ?Bulan ?station,”Oceana said.?

Wilfredo Campos of the University of the Philippines – Visayas, who spearheaded the study, said more than three fourths of the catches in ?Bulan? fall below the size of first maturity.
“Many juveniles are caught in this area and we need to implement measures to reduce this by regulating the fishing effort – the number of vessels, the frequency of catches, and when they are allowed to operate,”?Campos?said.

He also warned of dire consequences because of overfishing in the area.

“It’s very clear that the sardine stocks are overfished. And we should not wait until the limits, the targets are breached. Aside from monitoring, we need to think of measures to arrest further deterioration of the status of the stock,” Campos said.

“In other words, regardless of who is fishing, the total amount that is being extracted has to be regulated,” he added Campos emphasized that heavy fishing pressure and environmental changes over time have taken their toll on the country’s rich sardine resource.?

Data previously released by?the Philippine Statistics Authority?showed that?catch in?bali?(tamban)?and?fimbriati?(lawlaw/tuloy)?sardine?species? declined by 26.4 percent from 442,045.75 metric?tons in 2010 to?325,226.2 MT ?in 2019.?

“As our scientists have said, the time to act on saving our dwindling sardine resource is now. It is?crucial?that the Management Board of sardine-rich?Fisheries Management Area?7 considers the immediate integration and implementation of the National Sardine Management Plan. We need to act swiftly before our sardine resources deteriorate?any further and it becomes even more difficult for these sardine species to recover,” Ramos said.

Oceana has been working closely with national and local government agencies, civil society,?fisherfolks?and other stakeholders to restore abundance of Philippine fisheries and marine resources since 2014

OCEANA

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