EDITORIAL| Open season begins

AFTER a respite of three months, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources has lifted the ban on commercial fishing vessels’ use of bagnets and ringnets in the Davao Gulf. The ban also applies to small-scale to large scale commercial fishing with vessels from 3.1 gross tons (GT) to more than 150 GT. This ends the three-month closed season which started last June.

With the open season, commercial fishing vessels can cast their nets at least 15 kilometers away from the municipal fishing waters so as not to affect the catch of the local fishermen.

Since 2014, closed season was implemented by BFAR to increase fish production and to give pelagic fishes time to spawn and mature. According to the agency, they have monitored an increase in the harvest and size of pelagic fishes since the ban was practiced.

Fisherfolk are among the poorest Filipinos, having to subsist only on the catch from the sea which varies depending on the season. In a conference organized by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (UN-FAO) in Angeles, Pampanga in 2012, it was already noted that the poorest Filipinos live in coastal areas.

Fernando Hicap, former chair of Pamalakaya (a fisherfolk organization) said in the conference that despite the country’s rich marine resources, fisherfolk are mired in poverty due to the low technology used in catching fish and the “high cost in fish capture production.”

The close season could alleviate the situation of the fisherfolk as better harvest has been monitored over the years. Programs have also been in place to help coastal communities.

How to make this sustainable is a continuing struggle for the agriculture sector. The quality of life of our fisherfolk would be a measure on how well our country has battled hunger and poverty.

Posted in Opinion