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Philippines To Halt Tuna Catching In Eastern Samar Philippines, January 7, 13

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) vowed to stop destructive tuna catching in Eastern Samar’s Pacific Ocean High Seas, in line with the observance of tuna fishing ban exemption, reports Leyte Samar Daily Express.

BFAR Eastern Visayas Director Juan Albaladejo said they are closely watching 10 fishing vessels based in Eastern Samar that are using fish aggregating devices. The fishing method contributes to indiscriminate fishing of tuna, including juveniles.

“There are only 35 registered fishing boats in Eastern Samar and they are only using hook and line methods, which is more sustainable. Despite of the small size of their catching vessels, they still managed to penetrate high seas with the support of big carrier boats,” Albaladejo said.

He said there are some big time tuna catchers from General Santos City that are gaining access to the region’s High Seas due to dwindling catch in the south.

“We have to keep an eye on intruders to ensure that our fisher folks would enjoy abundant catch. This is part of self-regulation measures to show to Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) that we can effectively manage tuna fishing,” the official told Leyte Samar Daily Express.

The office of the BFAR employs the vehicle monitoring system, wherein registered boats are equipped with automatic location communicator for monitoring purposes.

Last March 2012, the WCPFC granted the Philippines special access to the High Seas Pocket 1 from October 2012 to February 28, 2013 provided that the country would implement conservation measures.

Recently, WCPFC approves extension of fishing in High Seas from March 2013 to February 28, 2014.

The High Seas Pocket 1 is the area bounded by the exclusive economic zones of the Federated States of Micronesia to the north and east, the Republic of Palau to the west, and the Republic of Indonesia and the Independent State of Papua New Guinea to the south.

The region’s Pacific Ocean, particularly off the coast of Eastern Samar and Northern Samar, is known for tuna fishing with about 600 tons every year, lower than the 1,000 tons quota set by the WCPFC.

Commonly, tuna fishing in Eastern Samar is in small scale, with locals fishing in the deep waters of the Pacific Ocean using small motorboats only and lines waiting for tunas to bite. Usually, fishermen always run out of supplies of food, water, and ice.

BFAR said the country’s annual tuna production dropped by 30 percent when the WCPFC imposed a ban at Pocket 1, from January 1, 2010 until April 2012, aimed at conserving and allowing tuna species to propagate.