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Fish catch decline in Zambo peninsula

10:04 PM February 10, 2012

This refers to the Inquirer’s Feb. 5 editorial titled “Something fishy,” which reported that “Asis Perez, director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), said that the local market has been opened to imported fish because the domestic fish catch has been declining.” It also stated that Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, who echoed the need to formally open the nation’s markets to fish imports, took note of the fact that the terrible drop in marine fish catch between 2010 and 2011 was due to overfishing, illegal fishing, and rough seas and strong winds during the second semester caused by several typhoons.

I would like to make a comment on the matter based on simple analysis of fisheries data prepared by the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics.

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Between the period 2010 and 2011, there was a decline in the commercial and municipal fish catch by 16 percent and 10 percent, respectively, or a total decline by 11 percent. But the increase in aquaculture (fish, seaweeds, shells and shellfish) production by 2.4 percent trimmed the total fish catch decline to only 3.5 percent. Nevertheless, commercial catch in four regions, and municipal fish catch in five, and the municipal fish catch in most regions, showed a leveling-off or a lower decline which could be attributed to the efforts of government, non-governmental organizations and people’s organizations in implementing the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998.

On the other hand, Region 9 (Zamboanga peninsula) accounted for 62 percent of the total decline in commercial fish catch; the decline in the catch of round scad (galunggong) and indian sardine (tamban) combined accounted for 56 percent (galunggong—10 percent, tamban—46 percent) of the total decline in commercial catch. Relative to this, there is a study that shows a significant increase of tamban catch in the peninsula in 2010 due to the inter-annual variation in upwelling, which made its water productive and biologically rich during El Niño that same year.

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The unprecedented decline of the country’s marine fish catch in 2011 is due to several factors, as earlier mentioned; but the most critical one could be the transition from the 2010 El Niño to the 2011 La Niña phenomena. So that the sorry state of the Philippine fisheries will not smell fishy, the Aquino administration should aggressively mobilize major stakeholders to make the fishery sector, particularly in the Zamboanga peninsula, adapt to climate change—aside from pursuing current efforts at integrating fisheries management to ensure fish food security and reduce poverty in fishing communities.

—EDMUNDO ENDEREZ,

[email protected]

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