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Davao City – The Bureau of Fisheries in Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in Davao Region has blamed climate change for the significant decrease in the volume of fish catch at the Davao Gulf.

BFAR-Davao director Fatma Idris said that the reduction could not just be blamed on the illegal fishing operations because efforts have been undertaken already to clamp down on illegal fishers in the gulf.

Based on the National Stock Assessment Program of BFAR’s National Fisheries Research and Development Institute, Idris said the scientists claimed the reduction in the fish catch could be seen as an effect of climate change.

Data from Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed tuna production in the region decreased by more than half from 2015 to 2017 despite the implementation of a three-month fishing ban for commercial fishing vessels from June 1 to August 31 of every year since 2014 to allow the fish population to regenerate.

The PSA showed the production of yellowfin tuna (tambakol/bariles) decreased to 665.23 metric tons (MT) in 2017 from 1,233.29 MT in 2015; frigate tuna (tulingan), 283.41 MT in 2017 from 655.79 MT from 2015; Eastern little tuna (bonito), 65.71 MT in 2017 from 176.30 MT in 2015; and bigeye tuna (tambakol/bariles), 441.21 MT in 2017 from 930.70 MT in 2015.

A joint Administrative Circular No. 2 was issued by Department of Agriculture and Department of Interior and Local Government in 2014, which enforced the three-month closed fishing season in the Davao Gulf to “conserve marine resources, to secure the spawning period of pelagic fishes in the gulf and continuously implement measures to address illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.”

The order bans small-scale to large-scale commercial commercial fishing vessels from 3.1 to 150 gross tons and the use of bag nets and ring nets in the gulf, which the BFAR identified as a spawning ground for tuna and other species of the fish and the 10th major fishing ground in the Philippines.

Among the protected species include big-eyed scad, mackerel, and moonfish.

Idris assured fish supply in the local wet markets is sufficient as prices have remained stable.

The region gets supply of fish from SOCCSKSARGEN and Zamboanga peninsula, she said.

The World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) said Davao Gulf is known as home to “a variety of reef and mangrove species as well as endangered species such as sea cows or dugongs and leatherback turtle which are listed in the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES).

Source: Manila Bulletin | 27 June 2018

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