TOTAL FISHERIES production declined year on year in the second quarter, according to a report by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

According to PSA’s second quarter Fisheries Situationer, the volume of production in fisheries declined in the April-June period by 1.36% to 1.1 million metric tons (MT), which was nevertheless an improvement from the 9.07% decline registered in the same period last year.

Total output of commercial fisheries — which contributed around a quarter of total volume — posted the largest decline among the major sectors at 11.89% to 287,031.61 MT.

“The 11.89% decline in commercial fisheries was due to less unloading of species in Navotas Fish Port brought about by occurrence of frequent rain that hampered fishing operations in surrounding marine waters of Antique, Bataan, Zambales and the Visayan Sea,” the PSA report read.

The volume of catch by municipal fishermen, meanwhile, was little changed at minus 0.69% year on year to 303,079.2 MT.

“Reduced unloadings in Palawan resulted from the shifting of some fishermen to construction work as laborers and the effect of illegal fishing activity such as dynamite and cyanide fishing and use of nets with fine mesh size,” the situationer read. Growth in aquaculture output, on the other hand, was 4.94% to 519,801.6 MT.

By species, overall production of flying fish (bolador), declined by 24.61% followed by round scad (galunggong, -19.44%); frigate tuna (tulingan, -17.55%); tiger prawn (-14.6%); squid (-13.89%); Indo-Pacific mackerel (hasa-hasa, -13.52%); Indian sardines (tamban, -12.74%); yellowfin tuna (tambakol/bariles, -11.81%) and anchovies (dilis, -10.11%).

Among the regions, the National Capital Region weighed heaviest on the second quarter decline as its volume of production plunged by 38.93% to 32,937.94 MT. Production in Central Visayas and Eastern Visayas fell as well with downturns of 15.51% and 13.57%, respectively.

“The decline in fish production this second quarter is a normal trend as the production is normally affected by weather conditions — both in wild-caught and farmed fish and other aquatic products,” said Eduardo B. Gongona, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources National Director.

Asked on the industry’s outlook for the coming quarters, Mr. Gongona cited “inclement weather” as a major determinant for the fishing industry’s direction on growth.

“We are not that bullish with regard to production from capture fisheries, commercial and municipal. Under the multi-stakeholder formulated Comprehensive National Fisheries Industry Development Plan for 2016-2020, growth projections are set at 5% and 1% respectively,” he said.

“Growth is expected to come mostly from aquaculture – particularly of five major commodities which include bangus (milkfish), tilapia, seaweed, crab and shellfish.”

The director noted the heavy exploitation of the country’s fishing grounds over the last four decades and that government agencies have “put more teeth” into their campaign against illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing.

“We are confident that with our intensified campaign against illegal and destructive fishing, strict observance of closed fishing seasons, adoption of climate-resilient aquaculture technologies and reduction of post-harvest losses, we would be able to maintain, if not, reduce possible decline in production,” Mr. Gongona added.

According to the PSA’s national accounts, the fisheries subsector accounts for just 1% of the country’s economic output. — Ranier Olson R. Reusora