BFAR: Galunggong back in Palawan seas

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Good-sized and matured round scads, commonly known as “galunggong,” are making a comeback in northern Palawan seas, as well as the Mindoro Strait, according to the fisheries and aquatic bureau in the Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan) region.

The return has been notable in the waters of Ulugan Bay here, El Nido, Coron, and Taytay, in the northern part of the province, and also in the southern Palawan town of Quezon, said the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR)-Mimaropa Assistant Regional Director Roberto Abrera on Friday.

“After three years of seasonal implementation of the commercial ban, many fishermen are now telling us that their catches have improved, and they are already catching good-sized round scads,” he stated.

The round scads being caught are now 16.4 to 19.4 centimeters after the imposition of Joint Administrative Order No. 1, series of 2015, consistent with the Fisheries Code of the Philippines.

Although they still need to verify reports, it looks like the fish had also made a return to Mindoro Strait, which connects the West Philippines Sea to the Sulu Sea, and separates Mindoro Islands to the Calamian Islands, Abrera said.

“We’ve also received reports that say big species of fish like yellow fin tuna, blue marlin, and tanigue are now being caught anew by fishermen in the straight. We need to still verify this, but what’s interesting is that it’s like there is a restaurant underwater, where these fishes go to feed,” he said.

He said these observations indicate that conservation efforts are succeeding in ensuring that the population of the round scads will flourish again.

“Of course, three years are not enough to guarantee that the threat against the population of round scads is already over in northern Palawan,” Abrera said.

He warned that if pressure is put on the removal of the galunggong commercial fishing ban, there is a chance that its population would seriously diminish in a few years.

“We need more years to recoup the population loss of round scads,” he said, reminding, too, that it does not affect sustenance fishing, only commercial fishing.

“Municipal fishermen with less than three gross tonnage boats are allowed to still catch the galunggong. However, we hope they’re not fishing the juveniles,” he said.

The closed fishing season of round scads had ended on January 31 after it was imposed a third time last November. (Philippine News Agency)