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MANILA, Philippines – The ban on tuna fishing in certain pockets of the high seas in the Pacific Ocean has already affected more than 100,000 Filipino families, an agriculture official said on Tuesday, January 24.
In a press briefing, Agriculture Assistant Secretary and Bureau of Agriculture Statistics (BAS) Director Romeo Recide noted that the fisheries sector contracted by 4.1% in 2011 largely due to conservation efforts.
The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), a treaty-based organization that aims to conserve and protect the remaining population of the yellow-fin and big-eye tuna in the Pacific Ocean, imposed a 2-year ban on tuna fishing in 2010.
The WCPFC was supposed to meet in Palau in December 2011 to decide on the ban but moved its meeting to March 2012 in Guam.
In December 2011, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) enforced a 3-month ban ban on sardine fishing following findings that the stocks of Indian sardines or tamban in Zamboanga del Norte is declining.
The BAS data showed that the volume of unloading of Indian sardines in the Zamboanga Peninsula was down by 11,658.16 MT to 31,284.51 MT from 42,942.67 MT in July to September 2011.
Rising weather temperatures and over fishing are among the major contributors to the declining tuna catch, noted industry leaders in General Santos City, the acknowledged center of the industry in the Philippines.
The tuna industry accounts for 12% of the country’s total fish production and employs about 120,000 workers.
Annual export earnings from the tuna industry are pegged at about $280 million.– Rappler.com