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Philippine Sardines Fishing Ban Comes To End Philippines, March 5, 12

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) over the weekend lifted the three-month ban on sardine fishing in conservation areas encompassing some parts of the waters off East Sulu Sea, Basilan Strait and Sibuguey Bay.
BFAR director Asis Perez announced the opening of the areas to fishing by commercial fishermen.

Research studies undertaken by the BFAR indicate that for every one ton of fish left to spawn, a three-fold increase in the biomass is expected.

However, considering the migratory nature of sardines as well as the vastness of the fishing grounds, the change will not be felt until after the next three months, the agency said.
Reacting on the initial results of the scientific studies, Zamboanga City Mayor Celso Lobregat is optimistic that it would not be difficult for the local sardine industry to reclaim Zamboanga’s title as the country’s sardine capital.
The Zamboanga region has 454 commercial fishing vessels catching pelagic species such as sardines, tuna and round scad.
Sardines, which include herring, are one of the major fish species caught in Philippine waters, next to tuna.
Department of Agriculture data show that in 2010, sardines represented about 26 percent of the 1.24 million metric ton (MMT) catch from commercial fisheries and 11 percent of the 1.18 MMT municipal fish catch.
Last year, the total catch was down 109,000 MT or 24 percent from 452,000 MT in 2010.
“Our studies on the development of larvae and juvenile of various sardine species during the closed season indicate that the closure was timely and that the areas covered are important spawning and nursery grounds for the said fish,” Perez said.
Actual observation of fish catch from a commercial purse seiner in the Sulu and Basilan waters showed that sardines and round scad harvested appear to be nearing maturity with length averaging 11 centimeters. The size of mature sardines starts at 14 cms.