ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) sent off two motor vessels to sea on Friday in preparation for the implementation of the fishing ban on “tamban” or sardinella on Saturday, December 1.
BFAR Director Asis Perez led the ceremony along with other officials of the Philippine Navy, Philippine Coast Guard, and several business and fishermen groups.
Perez said the BFAR vessels will scour the seas of Sulu, Basilan and Zamboanga Peninsula to make sure that no one will violate the administrative order, which took effect last year.
The ban will be implemented from December 1 until February 28, 2013.
A study presented by BFAR researchers established that the spawning season of the sardinella variety starts early December until late February. The ban will give time for the sardinella to reproduce, thus maintaining the abundance of their kind in the fishing grounds.
According to Industrial Group of Zamboanga’s Edgar Lim, the canning and the fishing companies in Zamboanga City support the ban, so as to maintain the benefits of the tamban in sardines manufacturing. There are over 15 plants in the city, gaining its title as the “Sardines Capital of the Philippines.”
Perez, however, clarified that the ban will only be imposed on fishing vessels, exempting fishermen who depend on their meager catch as a source of living, provided therefore that they remain in the allocated municipal waters to fish.
Based on the administrative order signed by the late Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, violators will be fined P500 to P5,000, or 6 months to 4 years in prison.
Perez also said that because of the successful implementation of the prohibition on tamban last year, the country has been granted permission from the Western-Central Tuna Pacific (Guam) to enter and fish in Packet 1, where tuna was caught last February.
Since then, at least 700 metric tons of tuna meat have benefited millions of Filipinos. They intend to at least fish for over 6,000 metric tons of tuna next year, as soon as the international agency grants them again the permission.