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Report Confirms Depleting Fish Catch in Davao Gulf

17 October 2012

PHILIPPINES - An official of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-11) confirmed in research findings that there was a general depletion of fishery resources in ten locations surrounding Davao Gulf from 2000 to 2010.

DOST-11 regional director Dr Anthony Sales said the depleting fish catch can be attributed to factors like water pollution, destroyed fishing habitat, diminishing sea grass, conversion of mangrove planting areas to recreational resorts and poor fishing practices.

The study entitled “Strengthening Governance and Sustainability of Small-scale Fisheries Management in the Philippines: An Ecosystem-based Fisheries Management Approach in Davao Region” was a collaborative effort of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, local government units and the DOST 11.

It covered research sites such as Barangay Cagangohan of Panabo City and Barangay ADECOR of the Island Garden City of Samal, both of Davao del Norte; and Barangay Tuban of Sta. Cruz and Barangay Tubalan of Malita, both of Davao del Sur.

The other areas included Barangay Poblacion of Lupon and Barangay Tibanban of Governor Generoso in Davao Oriental; and Barangay Matina Aplaya and Barangay Daliao, Toril in Davao City.

A total of 265 fishers were surveyed in all of the barangay sites, most of them male with ages 40 years old and above who spent 11-20 years as fishers.

The fishers usually make a weekly income of P1,067 in fishing and P1,845 in other non-fishing livelihoods.

The declining fish catch impacts on the poor fishers, consequently making them insecure of fishing as their primary and only source of livelihood, Sales said at the opening programme of the 49th Fish Conservation Week Celebration held Monday at the Grand Regal Hotel.

He said the situation makes them consider other alternative sources of income and better livelihood activities.

“Many respondents express willingness to explore other sources of livelihood aside from fishing as the catch gets smaller,” he added.

Mr Sales recommended strict implementation of waste management laws to minimize water pollution.

He said it is necessary for local government units to look at the discharges from the resorts and to ensure that no establishment stands within the 30-meter radius from the shoreline.

“Human activities on the coastal area contribute to the quality of our marine resources,” Mr Sales stated.

He said that DOST can also provide alternative source of livelihood to affected fishing communities through the agency’s Small Enterprise Upgrading Programme where aqua-culture and fisheries are considered priority projects.

Mr Sales added their agency can provide financial and technical assistance to fishers in the region to lessen the depletion of the fishery resources.

“We prefer that the proponent is an organization or cooperative, though we also provide to individual enterprises, as long as they have legal personality. At the region, we can give as much as P1-Million and up to P2-Million at the central office,” he said.

Earlier, Dr Della Grace Bacaltos bared that the danggit catch in Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur declined from 10 kilos per trip in 2000 to three kilos per trip in 2010.

Dr Bacaltos, research director of the Southern Philippines Agri-business, Marine and Aquatic School of Technology in Malita said other provinces were consistent in the finding on diminishing fish yield based on interviews with fishermen.

She said only Davao del Norte had values mentioned with fish catch reduction from 15.6 per cent in 2000 to 79.5 per cent in 2010.

The study said that problems still prevail in the study sites even with the presence of the local government units, Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Management Councils (FARMCs), law enforcement units and advisory bodies with functions as advisory, advocacy, decision-making, enforcement, information, education and communication, monitoring and evaluation, planning, policy making, project development, regulatory, research, technical assistance, sustainable financing and intelligence networking.

“There is a need to establish linkage in the site level scales of administration with larger scales of fisheries management,” the study noted.

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