MANILA, Philippines – The Davao Gulf is now closed to commercial fishers until August 31, marking the second year of the government’s implementation of a fishing ban in the region.
To enforce the closed season, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resourcers (BFAR) will deploy 6 vessels: two patrol boats on the Davao Oriental side, two along Samal Island, and two along the Davao del Sur side.
Two 30-footer patrol vessels acquired in February are expected to boost the government’s enforcement capability in the region.
During the closed season, small-scale to large-scale commercial fishing vessels (boats that are 3.1 gross tons to more than 150 gross tons) are prohibited from catching pelagic fishes using ring net and bag net.
The ban is to allow the fish stocks in the gulf to regenerate, following a decline of fish catch from 2000 to 2010. (READ: PH oceans in crisis: The sad state of small fisherfolk)
A Department of Science and Technology report in 2012 attributed the decline to poor fishing practices, water pollution, destroyed fishing habitat, and conversion of mangrove areas to resorts.
A resource assessment conducted by the BFAR showed that tuna and other fish species actively spawn in the months of June to August.
This prompted the Department of Agriculture and Department of the Interior and Local Government to establish a closed season in Davao Gulf during these months. The first closed season was implemented in 2014.
The BFAR study showed that most of the tuna spawning occur near the mouth of the gulf and its eastern portion. Thus, enforcement will be particularly strict in these areas, said BFAR Region 11 Director Fatma Idris.
Aside from being a major fishing ground, Davao Gulf is known for its high marine biodiversity. The body of water is a feeding ground for sperm whales, killer whales, and bottle-nose dolphins.
It also serves as a nursery for 5 species of endangered turtles, including the hawksbill, leatherback and olive ridley. – Pia Ranada/Rappler.com
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