BFAR-ARMM imposes 3-month sardine fishing ban in Sulu and Basilan

Cotabato City (January 10, 2018) – For the seventh consecutive year, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BFAR-ARMM) is imposing a three-month closed season for fishing ‘tamban’, or Indian sardine, in the Sulu Sea and Basilan Strait.

Jerusalem Abdulahim, chief of the Fisheries Regulatory and Law Enforcement Division of BFAR-ARMM, said the annual fishing ban is implemented to give time for tamban to reproduce. The ban runs from December last year until the 1st of March this year.

Pursuant to Section 2 of Republic Act 8550, or the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, sardine fishing in the waters of East Sulu Sea, Basilan Strait, and Sibuguey Bay is temporarily suspended to give way to the fish species’ spawning period. The ban also includes the selling, buying and possessing of sardines caught within the conservation area.

To ensure that no one will violate the administrative order, Abdulahim said BFAR-ARMM’s vessels are patrolling the seas of the island provinces — specifically Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi — to enforce the closed season policy.

Under Section 86 of RA 10654, violators of the fishing ban will be penalized with confiscation of catch and gear, and an administrative fine equivalent to five times the value of the catch, or a penalty ranging from P50,000 for small-scale commercial fishing, to P5 million for large-scale commercial fishing.

Abdulahim said some of the fishing companies that are affected by the closed season ruling have scheduled renovating their ships during the period and have reported that their fishing ship workers would still be compensated.

Based on data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) covering July-September 2017, positive growth in tamban production was registered in ARMM due to more fishing trips as a result of good weather conditions and abundance of in-season species in the fishing grounds.

The region has produced 1,311.9 metric tons of tamban in the third quarter of 2017. In 2016, PSA data showed ARMM as the top fish-producing region in the country. The region was also the country’s highest producer of fishery products in 2015 and 2016.

The region produced 867,939 metric tons in 2015, and 824,313 metric tons in 2016. As of November 2017, BFAR-ARMM has reported 213,935 total number of fisherfolks in the entire region. (Bureau of Public Information)