BANGA, Aklan -- The chief of the Fish Right Program in the Philippines of the United States Agency for International Development (USAid) said 70 percent of fishing grounds in the country are currently overfished.

Nygiel Armada said the fishery sector, local government and the academe should work together toward sustainable fisheries -- from simple to complex fisheries management interventions.

Armada was in Aklan to grace the 18th National Convention on Marine Sciences held at the Aklan State University (ASU) Banga Campus. This year's theme is Fostering Synergy of Science, Community, and Governance for Healthy Seas.

Hundreds of marine scientists, conservation groups, and government leaders from different agencies participated in the convention, which aims to highlight the complex people-sea relationship. The convention started July 4 and will culminate on July 6.

Armada said he has undertaken several studies in the seas of the provinces of Bohol, Capiz and Tawi-Tawi, among others, to determine the sustainability of the fisheries in the country.

"Based on the available relevant studies, it shows that the Philippines is already overfished by 60 percent. Now, I estimate that it may now reach 70 percent," he said.

To counter the problem of overfishing, Armada said they are negotiating with local government units and fishermen to come up with their own solution in order to sustain the fish.

"What we do is we negotiated with the stakeholders involved to undertake sacrifices for the common good depending on the situations of their community," he said.

He said several fishermen were asked not to fish for a month, while some were asked not to fish for three days.

He also urged local government units to license fishermen and come up with specified sizes of gears to be used for fishing.

"The fishermen understand that they had to do a lot of sacrifice but it's worth it," he said. (SunStar Philippines)