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DAVAO GULF CLOSED SEASON OPENS IN JUNE AFTER STUDY SHOWS TUNA ACTIVELY SPAWNING THIS TIME OF THE YEAR

The three-month closed season for the Davao Gulf resumes for the second year starting June 1 after a resource assessment conducted by the regional office of Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) in Davao region showed that tuna and other fish species are actively spawning in the gulf this time of the year.

A Joint Administrative Order by the secretaries of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) mandated the implementation of a closed season in Davao Gulf from June 1 to August 31 every year.

The closed season for commercial fishing vessels aims to conserve marine resources, to secure the spawning period of pelagic fishes in the gulf and continuously implement measures to address illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

“Davao Gulf is an ideal and potential spawning and breeding ground for tuna and tuna-like species,” BFAR 11 regional director Fatma M. Idris said. Of the 49 municipalities in the region, 30 are categorized as coastal.

Idris said the study confirms that tuna spawns inside Davao Gulf where most of them can be found near its mouth. Thus, she added, special attention and strict enforcement should be given near the area and the eastern portion of the gulf where high concentrations of tuna are found.

BFAR 11 is set to deploy six vessels to enforce the closed season, with two boats to patrol the Davao Oriental side of the gulf, another two along Samal Island, and two along Davao del Sur. The region’s patrol power got beefed up by the arrival of two 30-footer patrol vessels on February 27.

Under the terms of the closed season, fisherfolk or fishing companies will not be allowed to catch pelagic fishes using ring net and bag net. The ban also applies to small-scale to large-scale commercial fishing with vessels from 3.1 gross tons (GT) to more than 150 GT.

Based on the agency’s scientific studies, Davao Gulf is a key biodiversity area (KBA) in the Philippines. It is listed as one of the 34 biodiversity hot spots in the world. The area is also the feeding ground for 11 species of cetaceans, including sperm whales, killer whales, and bottle-nose dolphins and nursing ground for five endangered turtle species, including hawksbill, leatherback, and olive ridley. It serves as the final catchment for all runoffs, erosion and effluents coming from several watersheds in the region.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) reported in 2012 the decline of fish catch in the region from 2000 to 2010. This was attributed to water pollution, destroyed fishing habitat, diminishing sea grass, conversion of mangrove planting areas to recreational resorts and poor fishing practices.

BFAR 11’s National Stock Assessment Program indicated that small pelagic fish production has declined and has not been sufficient to meet the demand for fish in the region. This has prompted the declaration of the closed season in 2014.

Davao Gulf is generally an ideal ground for marine organisms to thrive and this conforms with the result of the study showing high concentrations of phytoplankton and chlorophyll-a and high abundance of fish larvae in the area. Highest distribution of fish larvae is observed along stations near Lupon, Pantukan, Tagum and Panabo where abundant phytoplankton is also found. (BFAR Region 11)

Posted By: Lynne Pingoy

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