Drop in fish catch in Davao Gulf due to climate change – BFAR

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 25 June) – Climate change has caused a significant decrease in the volume of fish catch in the Davao Gulf, the Bureau of Fisheries in Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in Davao Region said.

Fish section at the Bankerohan market in Davao City. MindaNews File Photo

BFAR-Davao director Fatma Idris told a press briefing on Monday that the reduction could not just be blamed on illegal fishing operations because efforts have been undertaken to stop it.

Based on the National Stock Assessment Program of BFAR’s National Fisheries Research and Development Institute, Idris said scientists consider the reduction in fish catch as an effect of climate change.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed tuna production in the region decreased by more than half from 2015 to 2017 despite the implementation of a three-month fishing ban for commercial fishing vessels from June 1 to August 31 every year since 2014 to allow the fish population to regenerate.

The PSA said the production of yellowfin tuna (tambakol/bariles) decreased to 665.23 metric tons (MT) in 2017 from 1,233.29 MT in 2015; frigate tuna (tulingan), 283.41 MT in 2017 from 655.79 MT from 2015; Eastern little tuna (bonito), 65.71 MT in 2017 from 176.30 MT in 2015; and bigeye tuna (tambakol/bariles), 441.21 MT in 2017 from 930.70 MT in 2015.

Joint Administrative Circular No. 2 was issued by the Department of Agriculture and Department of Interior and Local Government in 2014 enforcing the three-month closed fishing season in the Davao Gulf 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.”

The order bans small-scale to large-scale commercial commercial fishing vessels from 3.1 to 150 gross tons and the use of bag nets and ring nets in the gulf, which the BFAR identified as a spawning ground for tuna and other fish species and one of the 10th major fishing grounds in the Philippines.

The protected species include big-eyed scad, mackerel, and moonfish.

Idris assured fish supply in the local wet markets is sufficient as prices have remained stable.

The region gets supply of fish from Soccsksargen and Zamboanga Peninsula, she said.

The World Wildlife Foundation said Davao Gulf is known as home to “a variety of reef and mangrove species as well as endangered species such as sea cows or dugongs and leatherback turtle which are listed in the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES).” (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)