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Philippine Handliners Want Pocket #1 Closed

Philippine tuna handliners have expressed the wish to have the High Seas Pocket 1 closed to the Philippine purse seine tuna fleet. A declaration was signed last week calling on the WCPFC and the Philippine government to act now to safeguard livelihoods. 


The Philippine Alliance of Tuna Handliners met at the Executive Committee regular meeting on November 27th in General Santos City, Philippines. Minutes from the meeting included in the declaration outlined: “Tuna handliners of General Santos Philippines are engaged in handline deep sea fishing operations, using sustainable gears such as one hook and one line in catching large and mature yellowfin tuna, bigeye, albacore and blue marlin.

“On the other hand, mechanized purse seiners are engaged in commercial net fishing operations, using unsustainable gears in catching small and juvenile yellowfin tuna, skipjack and other like species.”

The National Stock Assessment Program observes that the purse seiners landing catch in General Santos have smaller tunas ranging from 10 to 40 cm, 20 percent of which are yellowfin and bigeye. The same report also confirms that handliners catch yellowfin tunas ranging from 70 to 150 cm. The Alliance outlined: “This reality confirms our observations that when HSP-1 areas were closed to fishing, our yellowfin catch improves in both size and volume.”

The Alliance of Tuna Handliners in the Philippines identified a number of threats and current problems. During the meeting it was stressed that: “Competition between commercial net fishing and the handline tuna fishing has proven to be difficult for the handline tuna fishermen. We observe a steady decline of catch of large mature tunas which has given our members no other alternative but to leave this livelihood in search for other viable economic opportunities, thousands of tuna handliners became jobless.”

The declaration explained that fishing has become very expensive because fishing grounds are becoming farther and farther and vessels can take up to five days just to make it there from port.

As a solution to the problems that the Alliance of Tuna Handliners addressed in the declaration, it suggests that closing the HSP1 and other areas under the WCPFC for longer periods would prove beneficial for the handline fishery sector.

The Alliance stressed: “We call upon the Philippine government to fully disclose information relevant to fishing on HSP1 and other areas under WCPFC. We are also asking the government to reconsider amending rules on transshipment happening at Davao Toril fish port and importations of frozen tuna at Gensan fishport complex Market 4, as there are reports of dumping which competes with the local fishers.”