DA, SEAFDEC track tuna and other fishes

Something fishy can’t be all that bad, but you would have to be a little more color-conscious beyond the size big and small of that tuna you just brought in from the market.

If you had, then you stand to get between less than P500 and P11,000 from the Department of Agriculture.

The department’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) on Monday urged fishermen and consumers to return colored tags attached to tanigue, tambakol and other tuna species and get monetary rewards for doing so.

Bureau Director Malcolm Sarmiento Jr. said fishermen and consumers who would turn over yellow, green or orange tags to the government would be paid less than P500 to as much as P11,000 for each tag. The reward, he added, would depend on the color of the tag.

“This tuna-tagging project carries a $10 reward for yellow tag, $50 for green tag and $250 for orange tag. [A tuna species carrying a green or orange tag] has accompanying devices inserted in the body cavity of the fish near the abdomen. [A yellow tag attached to a tuna species] is attached to the back of the fish near the second dorsal fin,” Sarmiento said.

He called on fishermen and consumers to find out if the fish they have caught or bought have tags in them, and if they have, to return such markers to the bureau or to their local government units.

“Any tags found in fishes particularly big-eye, skipjack or yellowfin tuna and other marine fishes [are especially sought], as these are part of scientific studies,” Sarmiento said.

Tagging project

He explained that the three scientific studies aim to help develop a regional management plan for tuna and small pelagic fishes in the Southeast Asian region in order to ensure their sustainability.

The Tuna-Tagging in the Western and Central Pacific project, Sarmiento said, is spearheaded by the Oceanic Fisheries Program under the Secretariat of the Pacific Community based in New Caledonia and funded by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.

The two other similar projects are led in the country by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources through the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute, or NFRDI.

The Oceanic Fisheries Program expects that “the tuna-tagging project will provide better information on fishery exploitation rates and population sizes in the Western and Central Pacific. Data to be gathered will allow the improvement of regional stock assessment for the three species [big-eye, skipjack and yellow fin tuna].”

It advised anyone who is able to take hold of a tuna species with a tag attached to it to record its fork length (upper jaw to the fork-end of the tail) and the date and place of capture. The fisheries program said that extra care must be observed in handling the inserted devices.

Other species tagged

Apart from the tuna-tagging project, a similar species-tracking effort is also being undertaken by the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC) involving small pelagics particularly alumahan (Japanese mackerel), hasa-hasa (short-bodied mackerel, Indian mackerel) and galunggong (round scad).

Along with tunsoy, tawilis and matangbaka, the small pelagics constitute about 50 percent of the country’s total marine catch.

The Philippines and seven other Asian countries in 2008 started tagging five commercially important fish species, among them galunggong and hasa-hasa, in the South China Sea and Andaman Seas as the focus of a three-year collaborative research on migration patterns of small pelagic fishes in these waters.

The government is undertaking this tagging project for mackerel and round scad species in partnership with Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia (the peninsula itself and Sabah and Sarawak), Vietnam and Myanmar.

“Fish-tagging involves the insertion of special number-coded yellow tags at the base of the dorsal fins of individual fishes. The fishes are released back into the sea and their tags will hopefully be returned to the nearest fishery agency by the fishermen who catch them,” Sarmiento explained.

He said that this project is designed to let researchers determine the migratory paths of these species, which, in turn, will eventually lead to the development of a regional management and conservation plans for the sustainability of small pelagic fishes in the region.

- By Ira Karen Apanay, Reporter

No comments: