BFAR-ARMM implements sardine fishing ban in Sulu Sea and Basilan Strait until March
Cotabato City (January 11, 2016) – To allow sardines to spawn freely, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BFAR-ARMM) is strictly implementing a three-month closed season for sardine fishing in the Sulu Sea and the Basilan Strait. The closed fishing season would last until March.
“The annual ban is intended to conserve the population of (sardines),” Jerusalem Abdullahim, chief of the Fisheries Regulatory and Law Enforcement Division of BFAR-ARMM said.
Pursuant to Section 2 of Republic Act (RA) 8550, or the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, sardine fishing in the area, which covers the waters of East Sulu Sea, Basilan Strait, and Sibuguey Bay is temporarily suspended to give way to the fish species’ spawning period. The ban also includes the selling, buying and possessing of sardines caught within the conservation area.
The area closed to sardine fishing covers approximately 6,481.80 square miles in nautical terms, or 22,260.36 square kilometers. For the fourth consecutive year, the Fisheries bureau conducted the annual ban in the area during the sardine spawning period that starts in December and ends in March.
Abdullahim reiterated that the measure will help increase sardine stocks within the closed sardine fishing area. “Our office (BFAR-ARMM) has deployed patrol vessels in the island provinces in collaboration with the Philippine Navy, Coast Guard and Maritime Police to enforce the closed season,” he added.
Under Section 86 of RA 10654, violators of the fishing ban will be penalized with confiscation of catch and gear, and an administrative fine equivalent to five times the value of the catch, or a penalty ranging from P50,000, for small-scale commercial fishing, to P5 million for large-scale commercial fishing.
The waters of Zamboanga and the island provinces in the ARMM, specifically Sulu and Basilan, are not the only areas where sardine fishing ban has been implemented. BFAR also reinforced a sardine closed season in the Visayan Sea and its surrounding waters.
The country’s largest concentration of sardines is in the Zamboanga Peninsula, Sulu Sea and the Basilan Strait. These waters are also spawning grounds for yellow fin tuna and other tuna-like species.
Based on data from the Philippine Statistics Authority covering July-September 2015, ARMM produced 1,328.17 metric tons of Indian sardines, or ‘tamban’. As of January 6, data from BFAR’s national office showed ARMM has 221,784 registered fisherfolks out of the nationwide total of 1,645,013 fisherfolks. (Bureau of Public Information)