Sustainable Fishing: A Key to Food Security
|photo by Paul Hilton/GreenPeace
- Competition between commercial net fishing and the handline tuna fishing has proven to be difficult for the handline tuna fishermen.
- The National Stock Assessment Program observes the purse seiners landing catch in General Santos has smaller tunas ranging from 10 to 40 cm, 20% of which are yellow fin and bigeye. The same report also confirms that handliners catch yellow fin tunas ranging from 70 to 150 cm. This reality confirms our observations that when HSP-1 areas were closed to fishing, our yellow fin catch improves in both size and volume. Such observations only points to overfishing wherein too many small fish is being caught by highly mechanized commercial purse seiners.
- Handline tuna fishing in coastal waters needs fish aggregating devices to allow us anchor safely at sea and reduce out fishing costs.
- Tuna handliners are concerned about dwindling tuna catch which directly supports about 400,000 people, excluding dependents.
- It is our view that passive fishing gears such as handline, hook and line, pole and line are selective methods of fishing that provide employment and more sustainable livelihoods to the less privilege/less educated and should be given priority attention and government support. We support the idea of zoning the fishing grounds in the Moro Gulf and Sulu-Sulawesi seas, making them exclusive for passive fishing gears and preventing mechanized active fishing gears to fish therein. This would allow substantial time for tunas to grow.
- Along the same line, we are of the view that the closing of HSP1 and other areas under WCPFC for longer periods would prove beneficial for the handline fishery sector. As such, the liberalized implementing rules and regulations for the Handline Fishing law should be immediately approve.
- We call upon the Philippine government to fully disclose information relevant to fishing on HSP1 and other areas under WCPFC. We are also asking the government to reconsider amending rules on transshipment happening at Davao Toril fish port and importations of frozen tuna at Gensan fish port complex Market 4, as there are reports of dumping which competes with the local fishers. Finally, we do believe adequate representation from the handliners in WCPFC meetings and the approval of proposed Conservation and Management Measures would definitely have a positive impact on the handline tuna sector.
- The Philippine government should immediately begin to assess its fishing capacity according to the following criteria and ensure those vessels and fleets fulfilling these criteria are given priority access to resources and that a national capacity management and reduction plan is implemented in order to reduce the most destructive unsustainable and uneconomical part of the fleets.
- The fishing capacity assessment criteria includes fishing methods which has low by-catch (Selectivity); less destructive fishing methods (Environmental impact); vessels and fishing methods consuming less energy per ton of fish caught (Energy consumption); fishing methods that provide more and reasonable employment conditions, compliant with standards with strong Government support (Employment and working conditions); greater direct income to and investment in the region derived from the fishing operations (Socio economic benefits); gear types providing the best quality of fish for human consumption (Quality of product) and proven compliance with applicable/appropriate rules, including quality of data provided by fishers as well as member states should be considered when granting access to a fishery (History of compliance).
“It is good because our own industry players are putting their heads on straight to promote and pursue sustainable fishing. Particularly, as the Philippines stands third in having the largest tuna catch, which also means we are one of the most exploitative. However, it is bad, as Philippine vessels fishing in another nation’s territory clearly denotes that our own tuna stocks are depleting or have already been depleted. And we are on the run around the globe chasing after diminishing marine resources.”