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Greenpeace Urges Gensan Fishers To Go For Pole & Line Philippines, July 31, 12

Greenpeace Southeast Asia along with two foreign fishing experts visited the Tuna Capital last week to campaign for sustainable fishing practices.
Greenpeace is advocating the pole and line method of catching tuna to address the ongoing decline of the fish’s population in the Philippine seas.
“We are running out of fish and running out of time. For a country known for marine biodiversity, there are very few fish left to catch,” said Vince Cinches, oceans campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia.
Cinches cited the importation of fish from other Asian countries as a “clear sign that our seas have now collapsed and the local fishing industry, particularly the livelihoods of small scale fishermen, at risk.”
To prevent “what could be an imminent fish shortage,” Greenpeace met with officials of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and members of the Socksargen Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries Inc. (SFFAI Inc.) here to tackle the advantages of skipjack pole and line fisheries.
Foreign fishing experts Bill Holden from the Marine Stewardship Council of the Australia, and Ibrahim Athif Shakoor, Secretary General of the Pole and Line Federation of the Maldives, shared their insights on the safe practice and market viability of pole and line fishing.
“The Philippines should tap into the vast resources of its seas without harming the ocean’s ecosystems. In order to do that, the fishing industry must practice safe and sustainable methods,” Greenpeace quoted Holden as saying.
Cinches said most modern fishing techniques like the use of fish aggregating device (FAD) usually resulted in “unwanted and unsustainable by-catch and over fishing” that endangered some species of tuna.
“If current destructive fishing practices continue, fish will soon become more expensive, and may even become a luxury,” he said.
Shakoor also shared how the pole and line fishing practice benefits the economy of the Maldives.
He also explained the benefits of pole and line fishing to the environment by giving bycatch fishes, especially small ones, the chance to survive and multiply as one way of reviving the seas.
Shakoor however clarified they are not campaigning against purse seine fishing but are pushing for pole and line method as a sustainable way to protect oceans, livelihoods of small scale fishermen, and the economies worldwide.
“This way, our seas can continue to provide foods and livelihoods for the millions of Filipinos in the years to come,” Cinches said.
BFAR 12 Regional Director Ambutong Pautong lauded Greenpeace efforts of promoting sustainable fishing to protect the seas and other marine habitats.
However, he clarified that no existing fishing company in Gensan is involved in pole and line.
“Maldives fishermen are using a flat boat design, different from the boat used by fishing companies here. We have to contemplate on a lot of considerations like economic and safety before we promote pole and line fishing,” he explained.
Pautong said BFAR needs to conduct test fishing or fishing exploration first to determine the boat’s stability when faced by huge waves.
He added another factor to consider is the source of small fishes used as bait in pole and line.
“We cannot convince private fishing companies to practice pole and line fishing without studying its pros and cons,” he said.