THE BUREAU of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources’ (BFAR) Zamboanga Peninsula regional office is preparing to implement the government’s new fisheries management strategy with the sardine fishing season opening March 1.

BFAR Regional Director Isidro M. Velayo, Jr., speaking during the open season ceremony on March 2 at the Sindangan Port in Zamboanga del Norte, announced that the bureau will be starting this month with an information caravan on the ecosystem approach to fisheries management (EAFM).

Under EAFM, 12 Fisheries Management Areas (FMAs) were established through BFAR Administrative Order 263 issued in January 2019 for a more coordinated policy development and implementation.

Zamboanga Peninsula is under FMA 4 together with the regions of Western Visayas, Central Visayas, and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The clustered provinces are: Antique, Guimaras, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, and Zamboanga Sibugay.

Mr. Velayo, in a statement, said “despite the fact that handling the area in the region is very challenging,” he is “thankful for this strategy as this will help revolutionize the protection, conservation and ensure the sustainability of the fishery resources for the benefit of our future generation.”

After the information campaign, BFAR will organize the selection of representatives from key stakeholders for the FMA’s Management Board.

The FMA will create and implement an EAFM Plan, which includes goals, roles, and monitoring system.

“The EAFM Plan is a ‘living document’ that is regularly refined and updated to address priority issues and problems. It also considers the governance capacity of implementing partners,” according to a BFAR briefing document.

BFAR will serve as convenor, inter-agency facilitator, and lead agency in implementing action plans for areas outside municipal waters.

Local government units will be responsible for their respective jurisdictions.

Each FMA was set up based on fish stock boundary, range, and distribution, and structure of fisheries and administrative divisions.

The Zamboanga Peninsula Region accounts for almost 50% of the country’s sardine production, based on BFAR’s National Sardine Management Framework Plan 2019–2024. It had a catch of 152,283 metric tons in 2017. — Marifi S. Jara