Feature: Gensan's tuna industry remains resilient
by Danilo E. Doguiles
Koronadal City (12 February) -- Despite the two-year fishing ban in large parts of the high seas of the Pacific Ocean, SOCSKSAGEN's fishing industry should stay strong and sturdy, says an official of an industry federation here.
Marfenio Tan, president of the SOCSKSARGEN Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries, Inc. (SFFAII), only a subsector of the fishing industry is affected by the ban being implemented by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC).
"Basically, the purse seine fishery of General Santos is classified into three subsectors, namely: those which have access to the fishing grounds of other countries, those fishing solely in the Philippine Economic Zone, and those granted license by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to fish in the international waters," Tan said.
"Among these subsectors, only the purse seiners operating in the high seas are directly affected by the closure," he explained.
He added, "tuna hand-liners and those using other methods of fishing operations can still fish in the high seas; also, this measure (fishing ban) is implemented only for two years, until December 31, 2011."
He also reported that the SFFAII is gearing for a continuing appeal for reconsideration of small and medium purse seiners to be allowed to fish in a portion of the high seas, particularly in pocket 1, the international waters bounded by Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, and Indonesia.
The appeal SFFAII submitted to the commission's meeting in December in Tahiti was subjected for review and further discussion in the science committee meeting in Tonga in August this year and in the technical and compliance meeting set in October this year in Micronesia. Results of these two meetings will be decided upon during the annual session of WCPFC in December.
"We hope that we can present our case well during the said meetings," he said.
WCPFC closed two pockets of high seas in Western and Central Pacific to purse seine fishers effective January 1 this year to reduce to sustainable levels the stocks of highly migratory yellowfin and bigeye tuna.
SFFAII, along with BFAR, is also advocating strict implementation of the various measures stipulated in the Philippine National Tuna Management Plan and other fishery regulations under Republic Act 8550 or Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, such as, mesh size of tuna purse seine nets to a minimum of 3.5 inches at the bag or bunt portion to avoid harvest of juvenile tuna; regulation on the number of purse seining operations by way of conducting more in-depth studies; installation of vessel monitoring system in fishing vessels; compliance to Fisheries Observers on board fishing vessels; and, regulation and management of fish aggregating devices.
"The key here is a more serious and strengthened implementation of our fishery laws," he said (PIA 12) [top]