THE Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in Western Visayas has declared the opening of fishing season for sardines, mackerel and herrings at portions of the Visayan Sea starting tomorrow, February 15.

BFAR implemented a three-month closed season starting November 15 last year as it is the spawning period for these species.

BFAR-Western Visayas Assistant Regional Director Carlito Delfin, who also heads the agency in Negros Occidental, on Monday said that amid the declaration of the fishing season all other regular laws still apply including that on illegal fishing.

“The three-month closed season has significantly impacted the production and growth of fishes in the Visayan Sea,” Delfin said.

Huge volume of fish is being preserved during this period since commercial fishing boats were prohibited from operating in the area, he added.

The agency noted an annual increase on fisheries production of 3.58 percent in the Visayan Sea mainly through the initiative.

During the entire implementation of closed fishing season, BFAR-6 has filed cases against at least eight violators mostly from Negros Occidental, Iloilo and Capiz provinces.

These are mostly small scale commercial fishing operators encroaching the municipal waters and portions of commercial waters within the closing season.

On Friday, BFAR-Western Visayas apprehended one large scale commercial vessel found operating within the waters off Carles, Iloilo that still forms part of the Visayan Sea.

“These are on top of other violators turned over by the agency to the local government,” Delfin said, pointing out that violating fishers with boats of at least three-gross tonnage are covered only by municipal ordinances.

Fishery stakeholders from different regions comprising the Visayan Sea will gather in Capiz on Thursday for the ceremonial opening of the fishing season.

Local chief executives of host municipal waters are again urged to further strengthen their plans and policies in managing the waters in their respective jurisdictions, Delfin added.