ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/21 August) – A group of canning and fishing firms in the city is strongly opposing the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources’ (BFAR) decision moving the closed season for commercial fishing one month earlier than the usual schedule they had imposed for the past four years.
George Ledesma, president of the Industrial Group of Zamboanga Inc. said the BFAR did not consult them on the decision that will greatly affect their operations.
Ledesma said they want to maintain the usual schedule of the closed season for commercial fishing from December to March.
“It was us who initiated the imposition of the closed fishing season four years ago to give time for the fish to spawn,” he explained.
Mackerel found in tropical and temperate seas is the main fish species used by the 11 canning firms based in this city in the production of sardines.
The BFAR, through its regional office here, announced that starting this year the closed season for commercial fishing will be from November to February.
BFAR Regional Director Ahadulla Sajili said the decision was made based on the recent scientific study and empirical data gathered by the agency.
Ledesma, however, said the BFAR has neither shown nor given them a copy of the study which he learned the agency discussed during its recent meeting in Tagaytay City.
He said some 30,000 workers of the 11 canning and 15 fishing firms will be idle for a period of four months instead of three if BFAR insists on its decision.
“Based on our experience, there are no fish yet to catch by the month of March. That is the reason why we impose the closed fishing season from December to March,” he said.
“There will be no work for the workers until March since there is no fish for the sardine production,” he added.
He said the prices of sardines, considered the favorite “poor man’s food,” will also be affected since there will be no sufficient supply during the closed season.
Production will stop by the end of September instead of November 30 as planned by all of the canning factories, he said.
The city government has stepped into the issue.
BFAR National Director Asis Perez is arriving this week for a dialogue with Igzi upon the invitation of Mayor Celso Lobregat.
Lobregat said that if both BFAR and Igzi insist on their positions the public in general would be affected as the immediate effect would be an increase in the prices of sardines.
He said the city government will try to help in looking for alternative livelihood activities for the workers during the closed season. (MindaNews)