BFAR amenable to transition period on close fishing season

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/28 August) – Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Director Asis Perez announced that he is amenable to a transition period in the imposition of the close season for commercial fishing in the region.

Perez’s statement came following a consultation Friday with the Industrial Group of Zamboanga, Inc. (IGZI) initiated by Mayor Celso Lobregat to find a solution to the squabble between BFAR and IGZI in the imposition of the close season for commercial fishing.

IGZI has been insisting on the December-to-March close season, which they have been implementing for the past four years, while BFAR is firm on its November-to-February order to be implemented starting this year.

BFAR’s decision is based on the result of a two-year scientific study and empirical data gathered by the agency.

A close season for the fishing industry means it is unlawful to catch fish during a specific period to give fish time to lay their eggs.

During the consultation, Lobregat has recommended a transition period in the imposition of the close fishing season set from November to March pending validating of data through joint studies by the BFAR and the IGZI, whose group members are canning and fishing firms based in this city.

Perez has vowed to strongly endorse Lobregat’s recommendation to the National Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (NFARMC) and to Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala for approval.

Perez said that a technical working committee, composed of both the BFAR and the concerned sectors and other stakeholders, will be activated to conduct a joint study to validate previous researches made on the close fishing season.

Perez lauded Lobregat’s recommendation as a “well thought of” proposal and is based on science and logic.

“I find it very difficult not to support that proposal to have a transitory provision in relation to the implementation of the close fishing season this year,” he said.

However, Perez said he cannot give any commitment with regards to the recommendation except to strongly endorse it to Alcala and the NFARMC.

The IGZI fully supports Lobregat’s recommendation, which is expected to diffuse the squabble over the period of the close season which threatens to affect the operation of the sardine industry and fishing firms in this city.

There at least 30,000 workers who are employed by the 11 canning and 15 fishing firms based in this city.

Lobregat, in his recommendation, said BFAR should provide a transitory provision that will indicate that the closing season this year will start in December as usual and that joint studies will be held to validate data.

Lobregat added that the canning and the fishing industries will be compelled to follow starting next year whatever will be the result of the joint studies.

“If the study would say that we will have to start the closing period by November then we will abide by it,” IGZI president George Ledesma said. (MindaNews)