THE fisherfolk of Lupon, Davao Oriental observed an increase in volume of their recent catch a week after the Davao Gulf was reopened for fishing this year.
Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in Davao Region (BFAR-Davao) director Fatma Idris said this is a result of the implementation of their annual three-month closed fishing season from June 1 to August 31.
“Sa ngayon, yung isang news namin galing sa Lupon, dako kaayo ang kanilang harvest. Yung commercial [fishing vessel] nila nakahuli agad sila ng 3 tons siguro mga after a week sa open season. Nagulat sila kasi nga di nila akalain (Based on the information we received from Lupon, fishermen have caught a large volume of fish. Their commercial fishing vessels were able haul three tons of fish around a week after the closed season. They did not expect it),” Idris said in an interview with SunStar Davao, Wednesday.
The closed fishing season is a period where commercial fishing vessels are prohibited to use bagnets and ringnets in Davao Gulf from July to August every year to allow small pelagic fishes like hasa-hasa or karabalyas (Rastrelliger brachysoma), anduhao (Rastrelliger kanaguria), alumahan (Rastrelliger faughni), galonggong, moro-moro or borot family (Decapterus kurroides, Decapterus macrosoma, Decapterus tabi, and Decapterus macarellus), pirit (Auxis rochei) and the tuna family, and matambaka (Selar crumenophthalmus) to replenish in number.
The region of Davao Gulf being conserved during the closed fishing season is from the Talagoton point in Don Marcelino, Davao Occidental to Cape San Agustin in Governor Generoso in Davao Oriental.
“Nakakahuli sila ng marami. Let’s say they get 20 kilograms using their 21-footer, balik sila uli kasi meron pa silang harbesen. Tatlong beses sila nagbalik-balik. So that is 60 kilograms compared sa five kilograms na nahuhuli in the previous time. (They were able to catch a lot. Let’s say they get 20 kilograms using their 21-footer, they returned immediately to sea because they still have more to harvest. After three trips that is equivalent to 60 kilograms compared to only getting five kilograms previously),” Idris said.
Idris said they also noted an increase in size of this fishes this year after their six-year enforcement of the closed season based on the latest report by the BFAR-National Stock Assessment Program (NSAP).
“Sa study ng BFAR-NSAP coordinator na si Jose Villanueva, nakita nya this period of 2018 to 2019 na merong increase in length in terms of centimeters. It is a general observation kasi lahat ng landing site dito sa Davao kinukunan namin ng ganong sampling. Hindi lang sa isang lugar ng Davao Gulf (Based on the study of BFAR-NSAP coordinator Jose Villanueva, he saw that in the period of 2018 to 2019 there is an increase in length in terms of centimeters. It is a general observation because we get samples from the landing sites here in Davao, not just in one area in the Davao Gulf),” she said.
She said the closed season may have allowed the fishes to grown because they were undisturbed.
“Ito na siguro ang epekto ng closed season namin, parang naging fattening ba. Marami silang nakain kasi hindi sila nagagalaw (This is probably the effect of the closed season. It becomes the fish’s opportunity to fatten up. They were able to eat more because they were not disturbed),” she said.
The recent assessment of BFAR-NSAP bared that the juvenile matambaka, pirit, karabalyas, or galunggong caught using the commercial gears have decreased by 20 percent. In 2018, most of the catch were matured fishes.
The decrease was attributed by the agency to the observed minimal fishing in some NSAP landing sites during and after the closed season.
Idris said there were no violations recorded for this period.
“Wala naman tayong nahuli dahil siguro nakita nilang vigilant ang ating seaborne patrol during closed fishing season. Ngayon, nandyan pa rin yung operation (We have not apprehended any violators maybe because they saw that our seaborne patrol are vigilant during the closed fishing season. Our operations are still going on),” she said.
She said the usual violations of the commercial fishing boats are overfishing or catching juvenile fishes.
According to the study of the BFAR-NSAP, the exploitation rate of fishing in Davao Gulf have reached 0.63 to 0.80. Going beyond the normal exploitation rate of 0.5 is considered as overfishing.
Commercial fishing boats have the biggest share of the fish catch or 90 percent compared to small, municipal fishing boats which get 10 percent of the catch. They are also prone to catching juvenile fishes because of the sizes of the net holes.
Despite this development, Idris said the implementation of the closed fishing season will still continue unless there will no longer be violators and the spawning of the small pelagic fishes will have a steady growth.
“Kung makita namin malalaki na yung fish tapos wala naman nag va-violate, edi we will lift the closed season (If we have seen that the fishes have griown and there are no violators, we will lift the closed season),” she said.
She said they are reviewing the closed season every three years. This is their second review since 2014.