Some tuna fishing vessels have been authorised to resume activities in the High Seas Pocket 1. (Photo: jibrael.blogspot/Greenpeace/FIS)
36 vessels approved to fish tuna in Pocket 1
Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 15:20 (GMT + 9)
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) this week said it expects a higher tuna production in Q4, as 36 Filipino tuna fishing vessels had been allowed to fish in the High Seas Pocket 1 after a two-year tuna fishing ban.
BFAR Director Asis Perez said the Western and Central Pacific Commission (WCPFC) had allowed the catch vessels to fish there for five months. Each fishing vessel can catch 20-24 tonnes of tuna per day, PNA reports.
“We’re optimistic that the last quarter of 2012 will pull us up, especially with the projected tuna production,” Perez stated.
“The ships left on 25 September. It’s a five-day journey so the vessels were expected to arrive on 1 October,” he continued, Business World reports.
The WCPFC imposed the ban in certain pockets of the high seas in the Pacific to protect the remaining yellowfin and bigeye tuna stocks. It began on 1 January 2010 and was supposed to have run until 31 December 2011.
But the Philippines requested access to fish in a portion of the high seas due to “increasing fishing pressures in the territorial waters and Philippine EEZ as a result of the closure of the high seas.”
The Philippines stressed that its territorial waters and EEZ are an “important” spawning ground of tunas and similar species and that fishing pressures from the closure will deplete the juveniles.
Perez said that out of 28 tuna-fishing countries, only the Philippines were granted access to the Special Management Area in the High Seas Pocket 1.
“Upon compliance of relevant requirements, some 36 traditional tuna fishers, particularly fishing vessels for fresh and chilled tuna, could start operating in the special management area,” he said.
Fishers will have to abide by certain measures, including the installation of automatic local communicator in their vessels, application for international fishing permits and the hiring of a Fisheries Observer on-board the vessel, Perez stated.
The actual tuna fishing may start by mid-November, as the crew will need to setup and deploy payaos, a fish-aggregating device, within the area.
He explained that the projected increase in tuna production would help boost fishers’ income in Zamboaga with the proposed closed season for sardine in Visayan Sea and Zamboanga Peninsula. The closed season is meant to amplify the sardine population, as tuna feed on it.
The Zamboanga Peninsula, including the waters of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and the Visayan Sea, contribute 30-35 per cent of the country’s total sardine population.
Sardine output reached 72,486 tonnes in the second quarter of 2012 from only 17,282 tonnes in Q1, according to the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS).
- Tuna fishers venture out to Pocket 1 of the Pacific
By Natalia Real