Masterplan for sardines industry in the pipeline

Oceana Philippines is seeking the assistance of the government in crafting a masterplan for the development of the sardines industry.

In an interview with The STAR, Oceana Philippines senior marine scientist Jimely Flores said the non-government organization plans to collaborate with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to draw up a masterplan for the sardines sector that will be used in the national level.

“Some smaller fishes are not growing anymore due to excessive fishing. The intensity of fishing efforts should be lessened because if not, the hope for sardine sustainability will be on the rocks,” Flores said.

Oceana is still in the research stage and expects the masterplan to be up and ready by 2018.

“We’re looking at what BFAR and DOST have not done yet, then that’s where we will come in to complement the data that are already present,” Flores said.

Flores said one of the things to be mapped out is to have certain limits of fish sizes to be caught and modify fishing practices and gears.

“This is very urgent. Sardines are affected in seasonal changes. We are experiencing climate change and they are very dependent on environmental parameters that’s why we need to make them resilient,” she said.

She added that the incoming La Nina and other environmental events could lower the production as excessive rains would lead to upwelling and result to decreased production of planktons, the primary food of sardines.

Sardines should mature from 10 to 14 centimeters in length but scientists observed that they are beginning to be much smaller than the normal size.

“This is a sign of overfishing. Because for them to sustain their population, they had to mature at a faster pace but way smaller in size,” she said.

Flores said the main market of the sardine industry is through processing. Local demand for the fish specie continues to be high as majority of Filipinos, regardless of class, are consumers.

Sardines production in the Philippines is largely situated in the Zamboanga Peninsula with up to 80 percent of total production.

Source: Philstar. Date: June 10, 2016