ARMM bans sardines fishing in Sulu Sea, Basilan Strait for 3 months

January 12, 2016 7:17 am 

By Edwin O. Fernandez

COTABATO CITY, Jan. 11 (PNA) — The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BFAR-ARMM) has started implementing a three-month closed season for sardine fishing off Sulu Sea and Basilan Strait to allow fish to spawn freely.

“The annual ban is intended to conserve the population (of sardines),” Jerusalem Abdullahim, chief of the Fisheries Regulatory and Law Enforcement Division of BFAR-ARMM said in a statement Monday.

The ban would last until March 31.

Abdullahim said pursuant to Section 2 of Republic Act (RA) 8550, or the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, sardine fishing in the area, which covers the waters of East Sulu Sea, Basilan Strait, and Sibuguay Bay, is temporarily suspended to give way to the spawning period.

He said the ban also includes the selling, buying and possessing of sardines caught within the conservation area, which is approximately 6,481.80 square nautical miles, or 22,260.36 square kilometers.

This is the fifth annual ban imposed by the fishery office during the spawning period that starts in December and ends in March.

Abdullahim reiterated that the measure will hopefully help increase sardine stocks within the closed sardine fishing area.

“Our office has deployed patrol vessels in the island provinces in collaboration with the Philippine Navy, Coast Guard and Maritime Police to enforce the closed season,” he added.

Under Section 86 of RA 10654, violators of the fishing ban will be penalized with confiscation of catch and gear, and will be slapped with an administrative fine equivalent to five times the value of the catch, or a penalty ranging from Php 50,000, for small-scale commercial fishing to Php 5 million for large-scale commercial fishing.

The waters of Zamboanga and the island provinces in the ARMM, specifically Sulu and Basilan, are not the only areas where sardine fishing ban has been implemented.

BFAR national office also reinforced a sardine-closed season in the Visayan Sea and its surrounding waters.

It was in Zamboanga Peninsula, Sulu Sea and Basilan Strait where the country’s largest concentration of sardines is located. These waters are also spawning grounds for yellow fin tuna and other tuna-like species.

Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data covering July-September 2015 showed that ARMM produced 1,328.17 metric tons of Indian sardines, or ‘tamban.’

As of Jan. 6, 2016, data from BFAR’s national office showed ARMM has 221,784 registered fisher folks out of the nationwide total of 1,645,013 fishing persons. (PNA)

RMA/JSV/NYP/EOF

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