THE Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said they will propose adjustments to improve fishing yields, including permitting commercial boats to operate in municipal fishing waters.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said that the government agencies will be meeting with fisheries stakeholders soon to discuss the industry’s preferences while presenting their own suggestions.
Mr. Piñol said the catch has not improved due to the 15-kilometer fishing limit that prevents commercial boats from operating closer to shore, in municipal waters.
“It has been established that the reason behind the decline in the catch of our fishermen [is] the 15-kilometer limit,” he said.
While the closed fishing season the DA has imposed has led to a decline in fisheries output in the first quarter, Mr. Piñol said that he expects yields to rise starting with the second quarter.
He said one option is to have local government units (LGU) adjust the definition of municipal waters, as allowed by the law.
Other amendments will be studied by the department’s lawyers.
“LGUs are allowed to modify their municipal waters. For example, in Davao, instead of 15 [km.] , they are now allowing commercial boats to fish between 10.1 [km.] to 15 km. from shore to catch fish,” he added.
BFAR Director Eduardo B. Gongona noted that Republic Act (RA) no. 10654, which amended the Fisheries Code, affected commercial fishermen by preventing them from entering municipal waters.
According to BFAR, there has been 20% to 22% decrease in the catch since RA No. 10654 was implemented. — Anna Gabriela A. Mogato