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Bawal hanggang Marso: Sardine fishing ban imposed on Sulu, Basilan

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Until at least March, fishermen are banned from catching “tamban” or Indian sardine in the Sulu Sea and Basilan Strait, on orders of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

BFAR-ARMM Fisheries Regulatory and Law Enforcement Division head Jerusalem Abdulahim said this is to give time for the tamban to reproduce.

The ARMM, in a post on its website on Thursday, Jan. 11, said the ban started December 2017 and will last until March.

Also baned are the selling, buying and possessing of sardines caught within the conservation area, it added.

Citing the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, it said 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.

Abdulahim said BFAR-ARMM vessels will patrol the seas of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi to enforce the closed season policy.

Violators face confiscation of their catch and gear, and an administrative fine equivalent to five times the value of the catch.

They may also face a penalty ranging from P50,000 for small-scale commercial fishing, to P5 million for large-scale commercial fishing.

Meanwhile, Abdulahim said some fishing companies affected by the closed season are expected to renovate their ships, adding fishing ship workers would still be compensated.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that from July to September 2017, a growth in tamban production was registered in ARMM due to good weather and abundance of in-season species in the fishing grounds.

ARMM produced 1,311.9 metric tons of tamban in the third quarter of 2017. It was the country’s highest producer of fishery products in 2015 and 2016.