MANILA — Sardine manufacturers are calling on local government units, particularly in coastal areas, to allow them to fish in municipal waters.
This will avert a looming shortage of sardines, said Francisco Buencamino, executive director of the Canned Sardines Association of the Philippines.
Buencamino told reporters on Friday that their tamban catch is dwindling.
"Our fishing boats are reporting to us that they are catching 40 percent of what they used to catch, and as of late 20 percent of what they traditionally catch at this time. Nagdi-dwindle ang supply ng sardinas," he said.
He said tamban are migratory fish that go where there is food. There's plenty of supply within municipal waters, where fishermen of canneries cannot fish.
It would be of great help if they will be allowed to fish at least 10.1 kilometers from the shore, he said.
"There is plenty in the 5 kilometer area or zone, dun namin gusto pumasok. Hindi kami pwede pumasok unless an ordinance is issued because of the fisheries act," he added.
Canneries are also now preparing for the closed fishing season, which starts from December and lasts until February.
During these months, commercial fishing vessels are not allowed to fish.
While canneries have buffer stock of sardines until December, government intervention is needed to ensure supply for the first two months of 2023.
"We are not claiming there is a shortage now, but there will be a shortage if this is not addressed," Buencamino said.
"But our fishermen will try and push everything so we can get together so we can resolve the shortage by October," he added.
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources has initiated a consultation with sardine stakeholders last September 28.
Recommendations were made, including allowing small to medium commercial vessels to fish within 10.1 kilometers in the municipality of Sibuco, Zamboanga del Norte.
Municipal fisherfolk will also be given government intervention to give them the opportunity to be part of the value chain by enabling them to supply the canning industry.