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Amid COVID-19 pandemic, group calls for protection of sardines in PH

By Madelaine B. Miraflor

Oceana, the largest international non-government organization focused on marine conservation, has called on the Philippine government to establish management mechanisms on the fishing of sardines, which has already become a staple relief food amid COVID-19 pandemic.

“Maybe because of its size, sardines is one of the most undervalued fishes in the Philippines in terms of protection and management mechanisms. It is one of the least pricey seafood sources of protein for most Filipinos,” Oceana said in a statement.

This, as the group urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to implement the National Sardines Management Plan, which intends to curb overfishing of sardines in the Philippines.

The plan, which went through several public hearings and consultations for the past three years, is now up for approval of these government agencies.
A data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that from 2012 to 2017, the sardine industry has yielded an average of 355,000 metric tons (MT) worth ₱10.45 billion.

In the country, some of the biggest canned seafood manufacturing companies are A. Tung Chingco Trading, the exclusive distributor of Ligo products; Century Pacific Food, Inc. (CNPF), which produces canned sardines under the 555 brand; and Universal Canning, Inc., which is the owner of Family’s sardines.

“In times of crisis, sardines are a staple in relief packs,” Oceana said. “To those who are not allowed to go out because of the enhanced community quarantine, sardines have become a staple in the pantry, whether canned, bottled, or smoked and dried”.

A Social Weather Station (SWS) survey in 2017 showed that 70 percent of Filipinos eat fish or any seafood for five days in a month. Of this, three out ten Filipino adults nationwide ate sardines.

Oceana said that given the significance of sardines to Filipinos, it is imperative that these “resources should be sufficiently managed for its harvests to be forever”.

“The approval of the National Sardines Management Plan is not only imperative for the sectors dependent on this industry for their economic interests. With the COVID19 pandemic, we saw again how important this is for our food security and health,” said Oceana Vice President Gloria Estenzo Ramos.

According to her, establishing Fisheries Management Plans are an excellent way to organize the existing biological, economic, and social information about sardines.

“It is also an ideal platform to make sure that all present and future governance and management mechanisms are coordinated, and part of a cohesive framework especially as we now have the Fisheries Management Area system. It also provides opportunities to set realistic goals for a fishery,” Ramos said.

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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