Over and illegal fishing among reasons cited

CALBIGA, Samar- Sardines catch in the San Bernardino Strait is now declining and their sizes are getting smaller.

This was the conclusion reached during the meeting of the members of the Fishery Management Area (FMA)7, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources officials from Region 5 and 8, together with the ocean conservation group, Oceana this town last Sept.30.
The reduction of sardines is affecting fishermen in Northern Samar.

The Northern Samar waters are considered to be part of the FMA7 that covers Sorsogon Bay, Ragay Gulf, and Ticao-Burias Pass in Bicol region, and Samar Sea, Carigara Bay, Maqueda Bay, and Irong-Irong Bay in Region 8.

Among the affected is the Ken Matthew Sardines, the only sardine processor in Northern Samar province that employs about 50 individuals.

Martha Cadano shared that they used to cut sardines in two during processing but now, the entire fish can already fit in a glass container due to the small size of the sardines.
Oceana said that based on their study, the depletion of the fish caught in Northern Samar is due to several factors which include overfishing, illegal fishing, and the weak implementation of the National Sardines Management Plan (NSMP).

However, it did not say as to the volume of decrease of sardines in the Northern Samar waters.
But Oceana said that majority of the fish found at FMA7 needs a management measure for sustainability.

During the meeting, it was proposed to regulate fishing in the area through the implementation of harvest control rule (HCR) by increasing the mesh size of the fish net and its length from 500 meters from the current 300 meters.

By increasing the mesh size, it will ensure that juvenile fish will not be catch while reducing the length will ensure that other fishermen will also able to catch a fish when they go out fishing, Oceana added.

To implement it, a memorandum will be made by officials of FMA7 which will be cascaded to local government units within their jurisdiction to enforce it by enacting an ordinance.
It was also revealed during the meeting that most of the fish catch in Northern Samar are directly transported by fishermen to Bulan, Sorsogon where the volume of fish catch in the seawater of the province are recorded in said province and not in Northern Samar.

To address this, Cadano suggested that a cold storage facility should be put up in Northern Samar so that fishermen will no longer have to sell their catch in Sorsogon.
Cadano added that the lack of cold storage facility also affects their sardine processing because they have to process their catch within few hours or the sardine will be spoiled.
Once they get spoiled, they have no recourse but to give their catch to the community for free.