THE ANNUAL closed fishing season in northern Palawan started Nov. 1, a conservation measure to increase the population of round scad, locally known as galunggong, in the area.    

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said in a statement on Wednesday that the three-month closed fishing season prohibits the use of purse seine, ring net, and bag net in catching galunggong in waters off northern Palawan, a major fish source for Metro Manila.   

The Nov. to Jan. period is the peak spawning season for the species. 

“Based on the National Stock Assessment Program of the BFAR and the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute, catch estimates of the species caught by purse seine has increased from 233.07 metric tons (MT) in 2015 to 434.98 MT in 2020, while those caught by ring net bumped up from 187.02 MT to 206.30 MT in the same period,” BFAR said.     

BFAR National Director Eduardo B. Gongona urged fisheries stakeholders to cooperate with the implementation of the closed fishing season, which is also undertaken in other parts of the country on different periods.    

“This measure will help protect the commercially-important galunggong species, ensuring its availability as part of our efforts following the guidance of Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar on achieving food security and fostering sustainable growth in the fisheries industry,” Mr. Gongona said.    

According to BFAR, Palawan supplies 95% of the galunggong catch arriving at the Navotas Fish Port, which provides fish supply to Metro Manila and nearby provinces.  

With the implementation of the closed fishing season, BFAR said it is banking on the aquaculture industry to provide alternative supply.    

The Department of Agriculture also previously approved the importation of 60,000 MT of small pelagic fishes such as galunggong into the country in an effort to avoid price spikes and supply gaps during the closed fishing season. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave