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CSPPS studies the effects of the Closed Fishing Season Policy for Sardines in Zamboanga Peninsula

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The Center for Strategic Planning and Policy Studies (CSPPS) of CPAf leads in the impact evaluation of the closed fishing season policy for sardines in Zamboanga Peninsula.  This study started in March 2015 and will end in September 2016. It is a multidisciplinary study which covers biological, social, household, industry, institutional, and governance dimensions.

Zamboanga Peninsula is considered as the top sardine producer in the country.  However, due to an almost 50 percent decrease in sardine harvest as compared from the previous year, a DA-DILG Joint Administrative Order No. 1, Series of 2011 (JAO-01) was formulated to establish a conservation area where a closed fishing season for commercial-scale harvest of sardines was enforced for three months per year for a period of three years, starting December 2011.  The no-fishing zone has an area of 13,987 km2 covering East Sulu Sea, Basilan Strait, and Sibuguey Bay encompassing the western municipal and national waters of Zamboanga Del Norte, the waters bordering south and eastern waters of Zamboanga City, and southern portion of Zamboanga Sibugay.  The seasonal fishing ban along the waters of Zamboanga Peninsula was lifted in March 2014, three years after the first closed fishing season was enforced.  It was then immediately followed by Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Administrative Order Circular No. 255, Series of 2014, which basically extended the JAO-01 but with expanded conservation area.

Dr. Agnes C. Rola leads the impact evaluation team together with the representatives of partner-universities, namely: Dr. Ma. Rio Naguit from Jose Rizal Memorial State University and Dr. Teresita C. Narvaez from Western Mindanao State University. Other CPAf staff involved in the study are Dr. Merlyne M. Paunlagui, Dr. Bing C.Brillo, Ms. Dulce D. Elazegui, and Mr. Hadji C. Jalotjot.  Ms. Catherine Cervantes provides research assistance.  The study is funded by the DOST-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD).

Initial findings indicate that abundance of sardines is seasonal but an increasing trend can be observed during the closed season catch, which peaks in May.  Data were based from the logbook of fish operators in the Northern Zamboanga Peninsula with three to four fishing vessels from 2008 to 2014.  Most of the fisherfolks said that their income is at least the same or higher today as compared with their income five years ago.  In the case of the workers in bottling and cannery firms, however, their present income in fishing during the closed season, is lower as compared with their income five years ago before the closed season.  Some workers were able to get other jobs due to lower income during the closed season. 

The outcome of the policy will still be determined, such as the increase of public welfare; net benefits to the canning industry, bottling industry, and to the fishing and fish worker households; and the cost to the government in implementing the said policy. (by Cristeta A. Foronda and Catherine P. Cervantes)

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