DRIVE against illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing is being strengthened in order to avoid scarcity of fish in the future generation as the production contribution of wildcatch fishes had decreased over the last 20 years, said senate committee chair on agriculture and food Senator Cynthia Villar.
On the second day of the Davao Agri Trade and Expo 2017 last Friday, September 22, Villar said the contribution percentage of wildcatch fishes versus agriculture fishes had decreased overtime. Twenty years ago the balance was 70-30 favoring the wild catch. Currently it is on 50-50. Should the illegal fishing, unreported, and unregulated fishing would push through, she said the aquaculture production may be dominant over the wild catch fishes.
“We need to have sustainable fishing methods to ensure that the future generation will still have fish to eat. Concerns over overfishing had been raised worldwide. In fact, leading scientist project, that if we fish the way we do, without allowing our ocean time to recover, our ocean could become virtual dessert by 2050 or 33 years from now,” said Villar.
Because of this, she said an amendment to the fisheries code against unregulated and illegal fishing had been passed which intensified the penalties for individuals or groups violating.
“The number of fish now harvested from the farms has doubled or tripled in recent year and aquaculture is fulfilling nearly half of the world’s demand for fish. If we want to continue enjoying seafood, we must supplement wildcatch with healthy, sustainably farm fish. We should endlessly educate everyone about aquaculture so that’s why we don’t lose our fishes in the next generation,” she said.
As thriving aquaculture is not a bad thing to the fishing industry, Villar said the oceans must also be protected as well for better catch of wildcatch fishes and in order to augment the lost 20 percent of wildcatch fish harvest that had been transferred to aquaculture production.
Last year, Villar said she had passed 10 laws supporting fish hatcheries and aquaculture breeding farms in the 14 provinces nationwide.
In Davao Region, the implementation of the closed season for fishing at the Davao Gulf was seen to be a huge factor for better catch.
“We had reduced the number of illegal fishers because there are no longer operations using bag net and fish nets. There is also increased number of larger fishes in Davao Gulft. This has also created awareness among the local government units and the stakeholders regarding the importance of the sea,” said Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Regional Director Fatma Idris said in a separate interview.
Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on September 26, 2017.
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