29% plunge in fish catch in Eastern Visayas alarming
A key official from the region’s fishery sector has expressed alarm over record breaking drop of fishery production in Eastern Visayas during the first quarter of 2018.
Gerardo Malinao, fishery sector representative in the Regional Development Council, said on Monday the 29 percent drop in fish production was proof that many programs, regulations, and policies related to fishing were not working well.
“The national government should strengthen fishery law enforcement activities. Likewise, local government units should support fishery projects because this is the source of food of our poor families,” said Malinao, who heads the biggest group of fishermen in the region based in Samar province.
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that fishery production in Eastern Visayas dropped by 29 percent from 37,607 metric tons (MT) in the first quarter of 2017 to 26,704 MT in the same period this year.
All provinces registered decreases in fishery production, except Samar, the only province that recorded a significant increase of 24.5 percent to 11,822 MT in the first three months of 2018 from 9,498 MT last year. Leyte recorded the highest decrease of 68.4 percent, from 17,517 MT to 5,527 MT, according to PSA.
Reached for comment, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) assistant regional director Justerie Granali said the overall output was largely driven by commercial fishing decline.
“There has been a reduction in commercial fisheries, brought by the intensified patrol operations, inclement weather and decrease in the number of licensed commercial fishing vessels,” Granali added.
Also aggravating to the problem is overfishing and the rising prices of fuel used to run fishing boats, the BFAR official said.
In contrast, Malinao calls for review in the processing of fishery production data since some of the region’s fish catch has been shipped to other areas. For instance, processors in Bicol region have been getting sardines from Northern Samar fishermen.
“Since we don’t have post-harvest facilities in Leyte and Samar provinces, our fishermen sell their produce outside the region. Consequently, prices of fish in the market have been increasing this year. There’s no economic justice here,” Malinao said.
In the first quarter of 2018, more than half or 55.3 percent (14,776 MT) of the total fishery production in the region were from municipal fishing. Aquaculture contributed 30.9 percent (8,244 MT) while commercial fishing accounted for 13.8 percent (3,684 MT). (PNA)