Tuna fisheries. (Photo: FB-Archive)
Tuna quota limit determined
Friday, July 20, 2012, 23:50 (GMT + 9)
Filipino fishing companies will have to stick to a 165,000 tonne annual limit of tuna catches and eventually to a reduction of the country’s 300 fishing vessels, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said.
The quota represents the 2011 tuna landings in Philippine waters and excludes imported frozen tuna from Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.
Total fish landings in General Santos City for 2011 stood at 112,890.82 tonnes, most of them consisting of tuna or tuna-like species. The figure includes the 85.94 tonnes of frozen tuna imported and those shipped from Manila for the city’s six canning factories, according to the General Santos City Fish Port Complex.
Benjamin Tabios, BFAR assistant director, said most of the 162 purse seine tuna catchers will have to be decommissioned to keep the industry going, Asian Correspondent reports.
“(The assessment) is fairly correct that there must be a reduction of fishing fleet but there should also be proportionate reduction in gross catch,” Tabios stated, referring to an earlier statement by former Socsksargen Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries President Marfenio Tan, who thinks diminishing the purse seine tuna fleet from General Santos from 162 to 50 will help sustain the industry in light declining catches and rising production costs over the last three years.
Similarly, Tabios said the tuna food chain must be managed for tuna stocks to bounce back. The three-month ban on sardine fishing early in 2012 helped tuna catches from municipal waters improve as well, he noted, which makes sense because tuna feed on sardines (tamban or white sardinella).
BFAR is now proposing a 30 per cent catch cut in nine of the country’s 12 traditional fishing grounds. However, there are still frontier areas for the country’s tuna fishing, he said, mentioning the immense Pacific Ocean side of the Philippines, which has remained largely unexploited.
BFAR wants the country to take three major steps to manage its diminishing tuna catches: a reduction of fishing vessels, slashing the number of fishing days and adopting a closure season especially in known tuna spawning grounds.
Vince Cinches, Greenpeace Southeast Asia ocean campaigner, said several tuna fishing companies have been thinking about shifting from purse seine fishing to the more sustainable pole and line fishing to avoid stressing stocks further given dwindling supplies. He highlighted the importance of changing to pole and line to protect wild tuna.
The firms’ primary concern is the cost of switching from one method to another, PNA reports.
Ibrahim Athif Shakoor, International Pole and Line Foundation secretary general, pointed out that pole and line fishing is cheaper than purse seine: a pole and line vessel only cost as much as USD 330,000 compared to a figure from USD 25 million to USD 30 million for a purse seine fleet. A pole and line vessel could fit up to 60 tonnes of fish.
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