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PHL aims for big tuna haul during 5-month access to high seas

October 18, 2012 6:22pm
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) is expecting a big haul of yellowfin and big-eye tuna in the five-month access to the high seas Filipino fishers have been given by the international Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC).

The Philippine fleet was given permission to fish in a portion of the Pacific Ocean from Oct. 1 to February 2013 and limited to 36 fishing vessels.

Each fishing vessel may catch up to 24 metric tons of tuna a day for 120 fishing days.

Access to high seas pocket

In January 2010, the WCPFC imposed a ban on tuna fishing in certain pockets of the high seas to protect the remaining tuna population in these areas.

The Philippines lobbied for access to one of these pockets due to “increasing fishing pressures in the territorial waters and Philippine EEZ as a result of the closure of the high seas." It argued that the country’s territorial waters and EEZ are considered important spawning grounds for tuna and other species, and fishing pressures due to the closure of the high seas will deplete the juvenile stock of the fish in these areas.

In April, the Philippines was granted access to the portion of the Pacific Ocean designated High Seas Pocket Number 1 Special Management Area, bounded by the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

Request for extension

The government is currently seeking an extension of the country’s access to the high seas pocket beyond its February 2013 deadline, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources said Thursday.

According to, the government is already conducting informal talks with the WCPFC member countries of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) to extend the Philippine access to "High Seas Pocket Number 1 Special Management Area."

"We have started country to country talk with WCPFC member-countries,” said Fisheries Bureau Director Asis Perez.

He added that fishermen “need to have continuing access to the high seas” to help the fisheries sector rebound back to positive growth next year after losses due to the closure of the high seas from tuna fishing.

The WCPFC will hold its ninth regular session in Manila in December. — BM, GMA News
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