A tale of two seas: Closed season is a mixed bag for Philippine sardines industry 

A tale of two seas: Closed season is a mixed bag for Philippine sardines industry 

MINDANAO, Philippines — Four years ago, villagers in the town of Labason in the southern Philippines’ Zamboanga Peninsula woke up to a spectacle they never thought could happen in these modern times: the sight of tons of wriggling sardines washed ashore. Ecstatic residents, young and old alike, rushed to the shoreline with all kinds of containers and filled them with these tamban (Sardinella lemuru) that they scooped up with their bare hands. The extraordinary event of the heyday fish harvest was caught on video that went viral on social media. For most Filipinos, sardines are a cheap source of protein. A can of sardines, which costs about 20 pesos (40 U.S. cents) at mom-and-pop stores, is a must-have pantry item in poor Philippine households. Robert “Dodoy” Ballon, president of the Coalition of Municipal Fisherfolk Association in Zamboanga Sibugay (COMFAZS), says the “sardine galore” event occurred not just in Labason but also in nearby Pagadian City and Tukuran municipality. Ballon, a two-time national winner of the Gawad Saka ng Pangulo Award (Presidential Excellence Award for Agriculture), attributes the unusual beaching of tamban to an annual, three-month-long ban on commercial sardine fishing. Small-scale fishermen resume fishing operations after the closed fishing season in the Zamboanga Peninsula was lifted in 2017. Image courtesy of the Provincial Information Center – Zamboanga del Norte The fishing ban extends from Dec. 1 to Mar. 1, the peak of the sardine spawning season, and covers commercial operators in a conservation area spanning 22,260 square kilometers (8,600 square…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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