Assessing the Formulation and Implementation
of the Closed Fishing Season Policy for Sardines
in Zamboanga Peninsula, Philippines

Bing Baltazar C. Brillo1*, Dulce D. Elazegui2,
Catherine P. Cervantes2, and Agnes C. Rola1

1Institute for Governance and Rural Development, College of Public Affairs and
Development, University of the Philippines Los Ban͂os
2Center for Strategic Planning and Policy Studies, College of Public Affairs and
Development, University of the Philippines Los Ban͂os

The Closed Fishing Season Policy is a fishing regulation adopted by the national agency and local stakeholders to conserve the sardines species and sustain the operations of the industry in Zamboanga Peninsula. Fisheries regulation in the Philippines, particularly the formulation and implementation of closed fishing season, is a little explored area. Premised on this, the study assessed the creating subsequent enforcement of Joint DA-DILG Administrative Order No. 1 Series of 2011. Employing a case study design, the article illustrates the interaction among the stakeholders and elucidates the issues as well as the constraining and facilitating factors in the formulation and implementation of the fishing regulation. In formulation, the study contends that the conservation policy was facilitated by precursor circumstances and practices (such as the decline of the tuna industry, the fishing closure in the Visayan Sea, the three-day fishing ban, and the “self-regulation” measures) while the main issue was the starting period of the three-month fishing closure. In implementation, it contends that the fishing regulation suffered from poor dissemination, insufficient safety nets, cooperation problems, industry unpreparedness, and lack of evaluative studies. The favourable factors include the availability of resources, support from stakeholders, few violations, employment of strategic alternatives, and improvement in provision of safety nets. Overall, the three-year closed season was deemed favourably as the stakeholders acknowledge the problem and recognize the appropriateness of the measure.

Zamboanga Peninsula is the capital of sardines production in the Philippines. The region consistently yields the highest volume of sardines contributing about 70% of the country’s total production in the last decade. Its two constituent cities — Zamboanga City and Dipolog City — are widely known as the heartland of the canning sardines industry and the bottled sardines industry, respectively. The trend of sardines production in Zamboanga Peninsula has been increasing over the years; even posting considerable increase of 94,000 metric tons in 2008-2009. However, this trajectory was interrupted in 2010-2011 when the region’s sardines production registered a substantial decrease of 91,000 metric tons (Philippine Statistics Authority 2015; Bureau of Agricultural Statistics 2014). The unexpected drop has raised doubt on the sustainability of the sardines’ supply, which alarmed the entire sardines industry as well as its main administrative agency — Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR). Earlier data from the National Stock Assessment Program also revealed that exploitation of sardines was at 60-70%, thus endangering the sustainability of the fish stock. There were also reports of catching of juvenile and gravid sardines. These concerns have prompted the sardines stakeholders to seriously evaluate the conservation of the fishery resource in Zamboanga Peninsula. . . . read more

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