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Government to Launch Five Year Fish Conservation Project

23 October 2012

PHILIPPINES - The Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) launched a joint five-year project which seeks to enhance the conservation and management of Philippine coastal and marine resources.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala, together with BFAR director Asis Perez and USAID environment chief Rolf Anderson, unveiled the ‘Ecosystems Improved for Sustainable Fisheries’ or EcoFish, which specifically aims to conserve and replenish eight marine key biodiversity areas (or MKBAs) in the country.

The eight MKBA sites are: Calamianes group of islands, in Palawan; Lingayen Gulf in Pangasinan; Ticao Pass and Lagonoy Gulf, in Bicol region; San Bernardino Strait, in Leyte-Samar region; Danajon Double Barrier Reef, spanning Bohol, Cebu, Leyte, Southern Negros Occidental, and Surigao; Sulu archipelago; and Verde Island passage, in Batangas

The project is designed to contribute to priority goals and actions laid out in the Philippine Development Plan (2011-2016) in the areas of sustainable agriculture and fisheries, as well as in the conservation and rehabilitation of natural resources. It also supports the current US country assistance strategy with regard to reducing threats to biodiversity, and improving natural resources and environment.

EcoFish also aims to improve the management of important coastal and marine resources and associated ecosystems that support local economies through biological diversity conservation, ecosystem productivity enhancement, and restoration of fisheries profitability.

During the launch, Secretary Alcala said the DA is proposing a P4.6-billion budget for the fishery sector under its 2013 national expenditure programme to enable BFAR to rebound and sustain the country’s fishery production, conservation and competitiveness initiatives.

Meanwhile, he said the DA-BFAR recently issued Fisheries Administrative Order No. 167, as part the government’s fish conservation policy, which imposes a ‘no fishing or closed season’ for sardines, herrings and mackerels in the Visayas Sea and Zamboanga peninsula, from 15 November, 2012 to 15 February, 2013, which corresponds to the fish species’ spawning season.

He said the three-month conservation period enables the fish to regenerate and propagate, a goal which was successfully attained last year when the DA-BFAR first imposed the ‘closed season’ in Zamboanga.

He noted that “when there are more sardines in the sea, tuna species are attracted and feed on them. This situation eventually results to bigger catch of both sardines and tuna.”

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