Sardines getting smaller due to overfishing
Studies have shown that sardines are getting smaller and spawn earlier to adapt to heavy fishing pressure and environmental changes.
Because of this, fisheries scientists are urging the government to craft a national management framework to address the overfishing of sardines.
Wilfredo Campos, a scientist from the University of the Philippines in the Visayas, said that existing data shows a decline in fish stocks due to heavy fishing pressure and environmental changes.
“Sardines are being overfished and existing policy measures are not enough to protect them, especially spawning fish,” Campos said.
Campos said that catching sardines would be more sustainable if they are allowed to mature for at least two years, so they can reproduce more.
“To keep up with being caught too quickly, they biologically adapt by maturing early to compensate for their population loss. They remain small, and spawn less compared to ideal, mature sardines,” Campos said.
Sardine fisheries are a main economic driver in the Philippines, netting 344,730,201 kilograms worth P7.43 billion in 2015, which provides food and livelihood for millions of Filipinos.
Sardines are also crucial in the food chain, eaten by high-value fish such as tuna, mackerel and scad, plus larger predators like sharks and dolphins.