THE Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) can increase the supply of round scad, or galunggong, in Philippine markets by allowing fish stocks to regenerate in areas declared off-limits to fishing, a former environment secretary said.
Former secretary Angel C. Alcala, a biologist who served in the Ramos administration, added that proper conservation measures are an alternative to imports.
Galunggong (lives in) the high seas… Once in a while, they take to coastal areas, but the coastal areas are not the habitat of these fish, it is in deeper parts of the ocean. The only possible strategy to conserve [this fish is] to declare certain areas off limits to fishing to let the population increase. If you limit [fishing in] several hundred square kilometers, then allow the galunggong there to develop in numbers,” Mr. Alcala told reporters on Tuesday.
Mr. Alcala said BFAR can close specific areas to allow the fish to breed, then allowing fishing while closing off another area .
“The BFAR knows when this species breeds, so tit has to study that and impose the law of no fishing during the time when they are breeding,” according to Mr. Alcala.
He also noted that “people should cooperate by not fishing in the areas.”
Mr. Alcala also supports fishing bans near coral reefs.
“When you close fishing near coral reefs, you build a fish biomass over a decade. When the fish multiply, they go out to the areas where fishermen (can harvest them). That’s the technique for improving the fishery in coral reefs, and that includes lapu-lapu (grouper), dalagang bukid (fusilie), and snappers,” Mr. Alcala said.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said that he plans to import 17,000 metric tons of galunggong annually to ensure supply and curb rising fish prices.
Senate chair of the committee on agriculture and food Cynthia A. Villar, however, said that around 1.5-million fisherfolk are affected by fish importation, and the government should promote aquaculture instead of relying on imports. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio