Good news for improving galunggong fish stocks in Palawan

GulunggongThe proposed ban on “galunggong” fishing activities off the waters of Palawan today met an outrage from the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and ally Anakpawis partylist.

In a joint statement, Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France, Pamalakaya-Southern Tagalog chair Pedro Gonzalez and Anakpawis partylist vice chairperson Fernando Hicap urged Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Proceso Alcala and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Director Asis Perez to think over a million times before pursuing the plan.

“We strongly urge Secretary Alcala and BFAR Director Atty. Perez to reconsider the proposed ban. They don’t know the economic disaster this proposal would bring to tens of thousands of small fishermen and fish workers in Palawan and the rest of fish capture people in Region IV-A of the Southern Tagalog region,” the fisherfolk leaders said in their statement.

“The Secretary of DA and the director of BFAR are entertaining an explosion of social volcano in the middle of Philippine Sea in crafting this ill-advised fish ban on galunggong fishing. It will not only deprive millions of Filipinos of their staple fish, it would also lead to wholesale economic sabotage of thousands of small fishermen and fishworkers’ livelihood,” they added.

Secretary Alcala and Director Perez said they are studying the imposition of a closed season on fishing waters surrounding Palawan province, which is considered the main breeding ground of pelagic round scad, in order to ensure the fish sustainability.

But France, Hicap and Gonzalez who led the Pamalakaya initiated Sovereignty and Environment Mission on Tubbataha Tragedy in Puerto Princesa on March 11-14 said fish capture of “galunggong” is the main activity of small fisherfolk and fish workers in Palawan.

“The fisherfolk can catch as much as 20 kilos of galunggong per fishing trip using simple and sustainable fishing gear. And the bounty is enjoyed by the communities who are able to buy galunggong for P 40 per kilo in Puerto Princesa which is very low compared to the P 100 per kilo of galunggong sold in Metro Manila.

Imagine the huge displacement this proposal would bring to the fisher people and ordinary folks of Palawan and Region IV-A of Southern Tagalog,” Pamalakaya and Anakpawis partylist added.

The DA and BFAR officials argued that the proposed ban would be an offshoot of the fish ban the agencies imposed last year in Zamboanga Peninsula for sardines. They said the ban on fishing sardines last year resulted to increase of commercial fisheries caught with 228,303 metric tons (MT) of sardines in the first quarter of 2013, which is 5 percent higher than the 217,431 MT caught in the same period the year before.

Alcala said the closed season on catching galunggong would help expand current stocks and reduce imports in the long run. If implemented, the ban would cover the fish-rich Malampaya Sound and some municipalities in Palawan, including Quezon town.

By Gerry Albert Corpuz and Rances Crisostomo

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