By Antonio L. Colina IV
DAVAO CITY – The end of a three-month fishing ban that was enforced from June 1 to August 31 in the Davao Gulf will drastically increase the supply, and ease the rising prices, of fish products in the Davao Region, according to National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Region 11 director Maria Lourdes Lim.
“With the lifting of ban on pelagic fishes in Davao Gulf, we expect the catch would rise and ease up the prices of fish items here in the region,” she said.
Citing Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Lim said that, before the ban was imposed, the region could only supply 10 percent of its total fish requirements for its consumers and that it would tap markets from Surigao and General Santos City to fill in the deficit.
She said the dwindling productivity of the gulf was blamed on overfishing and pollution.
The three-month ban affected small-scale to large-scale commercial fishing vessels from 3.1 to 150 gross tons and prohibited the use of bag nets and ring nets in the gulf, which the BFAR identified as a spawning ground for tuna and other fish species and one of the 10th major fishing grounds in the Philippines.
The protected species include big-eyed scad, mackerel, and moonfish.
Lim added that the spawning season of the small pelagic fish falls on the three-month period.
To boost the local fish supply, Lim recommended that BFAR should collaborate with the provincial government of Davao Oriental to procure large fishing vessels to catch tuna off its coast that is known as the “Tuna Highway”, to make the region’s supply of fish more sufficient.
“The region, particularly in Davao Oriental, can take advantage of its status as country’s tuna highway. The BFAR in collaboration with provincial government of DavOr may promote and tap this new source by investing in large fishing vessel purposely to catch tuna,” she added.
“We are encouraging businessmen to buy larger ships or boats to catch fish along the Tuna Highway. Our own businessmen could bring the prices of fish lower here in Davao Region,” she said.
She also acknowledged that the fish port in Daliao, Toril must be upgraded to accommodate large fishing vessels because of the fish catch by fishermen would be unloaded at the port in General Santos City.
“The capacity and depth of the fish port in Toril in Daliao is small and can only accommodate small commercial fishing vessel. Some of the fish caught along the Tuna Highway starts from DavOr actually would land at the fish port of GenSan,” she said.
She said the NEDA recommended to Department of Agriculture in Davao to replicate the issuance of certificates of necessity to allow fish imports to be distributed in the local wet markets.