End of fishing ban seen to ease up fish prices in Davao Region

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

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/ 11 September) – The end of a three-month fishing ban, from June 1 to August 31, in Davao Gulf will ease up the prices of fish products in Davao Region, National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) 11 director Maria Lourdes Lim said.

“With lifting of ban on pelagic fishes in Davao Gulf, we expect the catch would rise and ease up the prices of fish items here in the region,” she said.

Citing the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Lim said the region could only supply 10% of the demand of its consumers that it has to tap markets in Surigao and General Santos City to fill in the deficit.

She said the dwindling productivity of the gulf was blamed on overfishing and pollution.

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) 11 director Maria Belenda Ambi said movements in the prices of fish, meat, rice, and vegetables contributed to the region’s 7.1% inflation rate in August, the third highest in Mindanao and fourth highest among the country 17 regions.

She said the DTI has directed the local government units to activate their interagency price coordinating councils to monitor and check on the movement of prices.

The Department of Agriculture and Department of Interior and Local Government issued Joint Administrative Circular No. 2 in 2014 establishing a 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 10 major fishing grounds in the Philippines. The protected species include big-eyed scad, mackerel, and moonfish.

Lim said the spawning season of the small pelagic fish falls on the three-month period.

To boost the local fish supply, she recommended that BFAR collaborate with the provincial government of Davao Oriental to procure large fishing vessels to catch tuna off its coast that is known as the “Tuna Highway” to make the region’s supply of fish more sufficient.

“The region particularly in Davao Oriental can take advantage of its status as the country’s tuna highway. The BFAR in collaboration with provincial government of DavOr may promote and tap this new source by investing in large fishing vessel purposely to catch tuna,” she said.

“We are encouraging businessmen to buy larger ships or boats to catch fish along the Tuna Highway. Our own businessmen could bring the prices of fish lower here in Davao Region,” she added.

She acknowledged that the fish port in Daliao, Toril must be upgraded to accommodate large fishing vessels so that the fishermen would not have to unload their catch at the port in General Santos City.

“The capacity and depth of the fish port in Toril in Daliao is small and can only accommodate small commercial fishing vessels. Some of the fish caught along the Tuna Highway starting from DavOr actually would land at the fish port of GenSan,” she said.

She said the NEDA recommended to the Department of Agriculture in Davao to replicate the issuance of certificates of necessity to allow fish imports to be distributed in the local wet markets. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)