Tuesday, August 01, 2006

 

Visayan Sea, the Haven for Fishes

Melchor F. Cichon
formerly posted in http://www.goodnewsphilippines.com
May 1, 2005

The Visayan Sea is one of the most productive fishing grounds in the Philippines.

It is enclosed by the island-provinces of Cebu, Masbate, Iloilo and Negros Occidental and it is located between 11 and 12 degrees North latitude and 123 and 124 degrees East longitude. It is approximately 10,000 square kilometers wide.

A large amount of fishes and other fishery products are caught in this area like: barracudas, big-eyed scad, bogies, dolphin fishes, eels, flatfishes, frigate tuna, gizzard shads (kabasi), goatfishes, groupers, lizard fishes, marlin, milkfish, moonfish, moray, rays, round herring, roundscad, sailfish, sea bass, sea catfishes, shark, siganids, skipjack, slipmouths, snapper (maya-maya), Spanish mackerels, surgeon fish, sword fish, and threadfin breams (bisugo).

The Visayan sea is also abundant of the following: abalones, clams, cockles, crabs, lobsters, mussels, oysters, prawns, scallops, seaweeds.shells,.shrimps, sponges, squids, turtles,

Based on fisheries statistics available at the University of the Philippines in the Visayas, College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences Library, Miag-ao, Iloilo, this fishing ground has always been among the top three of the more than 50 commercial fishing grounds in the country.

Its lowest commercial production was in 1953 with a total production of 17,673,216 kgs (5.78% of the Philippine total fish production), while its highest was in 1979 with 197,874,000 kgs.

However, when it is referred to the Visayan sea highest total fisheries production, its peak was in 1992 with a total fish production of 257,839,000 kgs.

It is unfortunate however that this fishing ground has decreased its production through the years affecting so many fishermen around this area.

In the last four years, from 1992 to 1995, the Visayan sea total fisheries production went down from 257,839 metric tons to 208,883 MT.

In Panay alone more than 6,000 fishermen depend on the Visayan Sea’s resources.

Its decline started in 1971 just before the declaration of martial law with a commercial total production of 72,477,320 kilograms, from 112,735,480 kgs. in 1969 and 89,992,640 kgs. in 1970.

This decrease was noticeable despite the fact that at that time (1970: 2,061) the total number of powered fishing vessels in the Philippines was almost the same as in the previous years (1965-1969).

In 1965 for example, the total powered fishing vessel in the country was 2,066 while in 1971, there were 2,142.
But it recovered in 1992 with a total production of 257,839,000 kilograms but then again it went down to 208,883,000 kilograms in 1995.

This shows that this particular fishing ground is depleting perhaps due to over-fishing.

Since BFAR has not issued its latest figures on the production of our fishing grounds since 1995, we can not see whether the move to revitalize this area has been effective.

In Iloilo, a group of municipal coastal communities has formed a community-based alliance called the Northern Iloilo Alliance for Coastal Development to prevent illegal fishing.

This must have been the concrete result of the Visayan Sea Coastal and Fisheries Resources Management Project (VisSea) which was developed in 1998.

This integrated coastal resource management project aims to have sustainable resource management and utilization and, ultimately, to improve the socioeconomic conditions of the participating communities along the Visayan sea.

Below is the run-down of the production of this fishing ground from 1953 to 1995. It is unfortunate that this writer was not able to get the figures for the year 1957, and for the years after 1995.


Commercial Fish Production of the Visayan Sea, 1953-1995

Compiled by

Melchor F. Cichon, 2005

Note: Please note that the following figures include only the Commercial Production of the Visayan Sea because the municipal productions are not included in the Fisheries Statistics of the Philippines from 1953 to 1979, 1988-1991. It was only in 1992 that the municipal fisheries production was again reported.

Year... Visayan Sea (in kg)... Philippines (in kg)
1953... 17,673,216... 305,626,141
1954... 27,225,157... 343,624,987
1955... 25,086,591... 362,927,057
1956... 28,270,623... 393,648,000
1957... not available... 387,170,000
1958... 29,503,014... 426,666,000
1959... 28,859,710... 436,481,000
1960... 25,977,720... 444,622,000
1961... 31,220,390... 454,899,000
1962... 32,530,320... 483,948,000
1963... 43,560,840... 547,354,000
1964... 53,926,880... 603,506,000
1965... 70,148,280... 667,202,000
1966... 85,812,320... 705,278,000
1967... 118,265,160... 746,063,000
1968... 124,163,520... 937,684,000
1969... 112,735,480... 940,792,000
1970... 89,992,640... 988,884,000
1971... 72,477,320... 1,023,095,000
1972... 81,115,190... 1,122,410,000
1973... 169,393,470... 1,204,837,000
1974... 161,448,840... 1,268,368,000
1975... 181,030,900... 1,336,803,000
1976... 151,237,120... 1,393,483,000
1977... 175,080,000... 1,508,855,000
1978... 185,358,000... 1,580,404,000
1979... 197,874,000... 1,581,303,000
1980... 135,226,000... 1,672,254,000
1981... 125,559,000... 1,772,897,000
1982... 121,894,000... 1,896,983,000
1983... 130,528,000... 2,110,230,000
1984... 141,991,000... 2,080,439,000
1985... not available... 2,052,111,000
1986... 126,181,000... 2,089,484,000
1987... 135,137,000... 2,213,040,000
1988... 137,196,000... 2,269,744,000
1989... 137,196,000... 2,371,109,000
1990... 150,854,000... 2,503,546,000
1991... 159,657,000... 2,598,981,000
1992... 165,256,000... 2,625,607,000
1993... 131,709,000... 2,631,945,000
1994... 134,537,000... 2,720,989,000
1995... 120,267,000... 2,785,085,000

Sources: Fisheries Statistics of the Philippines. Manila: BFAR.
Hermes, R. et al. 2004. Overexploitation in the Visayan Sea: Designing a project solution, p. 312-317. In DA-BFR (Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources). In Turbulent seas: The status of Philippine marine fisheries. Coastal Resource Management Project, Cebu City, Philippines. 378p.
Philippine Fisheries Profile. Manila: BFAR.
"Philippine Visayan Sea Close to Depletion",The Catch from News Reports from Around the World. STREAM Media Monitoring Report, June 2004, p.6

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