Tuna spawns in Davao Gulf increase after closure to commercial fishing

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/11 September) – Tuna spawns in the Davao Gulf have increased two months after it was closed to commercial fishing, an official at the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources said Tuesday.

The closed season lasted from July to August 31.

In an interview at the BFAR Regional Office, Jose Villanueva, fisheries licensing and law enforcement division officer in charge, said tuna production increased because small pelagic fish were the main diet of the seven tuna species that thrive in the gulf.

“The most exciting about this is the presence of the big eye tuna, which costs the most in the market,” Villanueva said.

He added their initial studies showed that the tuna species increased in both volume and size because of the ban, which included the prohibition of ring nets and bag nets that would catch even the fish larvae.

He said the agency was able to determine this through an increase in the findings of larvae of several species of fish, measured in CPU or catch per unit efforts.

He, however, said that for the entire gulf, 80% of the harvest areas were for commercial fishing, with the rest belonging to municipal waters.

In an interview Tuesday at the Sangguniang Panlungsod, Davao Gulf Management Council chair Leonardo Avila said the development should encourage more fisher folk to honor the months of June to August as spawning seasons.

Avila said he received information from fisher folk that there was an abundance of catch of small pelagic fish.

Villanueva said aside from field personnel from the BFAR enforcement division the national stock analysis study of the agency was already in the stage of confirming the species of the larvae that they caught within the period.

“One of our commercial fishermen from Lupon told me that they now harvest more than one ton of fish during their latest catch,” he said.

“They used to be happy with only kilograms of fish,” he noted.

The BFAR official said there was a delay in implementing the fishing ban since the agency had to wait for one month for the publication of Joint Administrative Order No. 2, the legal basis of the ban, as well as its input into the registry of administrative orders.

The period stipulated by JAO2 was supposed to be June to August and the same period one year after that.

JAO 2, according to the BFAR website, “prohibits the fishing from June to August of every year of species of fishes in Davao gulf that includes the big-eyed scad, skipjack tuna, species of tuna, scad, mackerel, and moonfish.”

Violators of the JAO, specifically the highest ranking officers of the vessel, face imprisonment of up to six years or a fine of P6,000.

They also face cancelation of fishing licenses. (MindaNews)