As a finite resource, the reef fish for food if not regulated properly, will soon dwindle to nothing. In Palawan, the reef fish for food (RFF) industry was once a thriving industry. However, due to over extraction and habitat destruction, there is now a continuing deterioration, declining yield and less revenue. This adversely affected the livelihood of fishermen as well as the traders. Thus, the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, as the implementing agency of the Wildlife Act or RA 9147 in the province of Palawan, revised the Administrative Order No. 5 Series of 2000.
The Revised Administrative Order No. 5 Series of 2014 or the “Guidelines for the Regulation and Monitoring of Catching, Culture, Trade, Transport and Export of Reef-Fish-For-Food in Palawan” has been polished after a series of successful public consultations, and is in effect since December 11, 2014. The purpose of the policy is to create sound policy options for leadership to achieve its goal of balancing environmental conservation and economic development, by protecting the RFF and similarly sustaining livelihood and the industry.
Some of the major features introduced in the revised AO are the following: 1) Species-based regulation; 2) Open and Closed Season; 3) Size Restrictions; 4) Permitting system anchored from Wildlife Act; 5) Option to post bond; and 6)Monitoring and Enforcement Mechanisms. With its successful implementation, it will ensure the sustainability of the RFF, thus, safeguarding the wellbeing and livelihood of coastal communities and other stakeholders concerned.
Under this policy, three kinds of species of reef fish for human consumption and trade, either live or fresh fish, are covered. These are the following: 1) Plectropomus leopardus, commonly known as Leopard Coral Trout or Grouper (Suno); 2.) Epinephelus coioides, commonly known as Estuary or green grouper (Loba); and 3) Epinephelus fuscoguttatus, commonly known as Tiger, brown marbled grouper (Lapung baboy).
Seasonal control and size restrictions are very important additions to this revised policy. The main objective of these provisions is to regulate resource extraction to a sustainable level. The provision on seasonal control will ensure minimal intrusion during spawning seasons. As for size restriction, it will give the RFF time to mature and propagate. However, those bought from accredited hatcheries are not subject to the seasonal control as well as to size restrictions.
|OPEN SEASON||January 1||June 15|
|September 1||October 15|
|CLOSE SEASON||June 16||August 31|
|October 16||December 15|
|RFF (Only suno is covered, but not loba and lapung baboy)||32 centimetres||47.5 centimetres|
The bases in determining the dates and sizes were mutual agreements of the industry players which were also anchored on scientific studies conducted by World Wildlife Fund – Palawan and Western Philippines University, as well as published literatures and confirmed information of fishermen and traders.
The following table will illustrate the permitting system:
|SECTORS||PERMITS REQUIRED||WHERE TO SUBMIT APPLICATION||WHO WILL APPROVE|
|Catching||Wildlife Collector’s Permit (WCP)||PCSDS||PCSDS Executive Director|
|Trading||Wildlife Special Use Permit (WSUP)||ECAN Board||PCSDS Executive Director|
|Culturing/Breeding||Wildlife Farm Permit (WFP)||ECAN Board||PCSD|
|Transporting||Local Transport Permit (LTP) – this is only needed for transport outside the Province of||PCSDS||PCSDS Executive Director|
|Exporting/Importing||Non-CITES Export Permit||PCSDS||PCSDS Executive Director|
If there are violations on the use of the permit or irregularities on the transactions of holder/permitee, they may post a bond equivalent to the value of the RFF involved as soon as possible. The bond shall be forfeited in favor of the government in case the holder/permitee is later found to have committed a violation of the Order.
The prohibited acts are also prescribed on the revised AO. Graded penalties or legal actions shall be imposed on anyone caught committing these acts. These are the following: 1) Six (6) months suspension of permit/s for the first offense; 2) Cancellation of permit/s for the second offense; 3) Forfeiture and Closure if warranted; and 4) Criminal prosecution under R.A. 9147.
The Revised Administrative Order No. 5 series of 2014 was promulgated to ensure the sustainability of reef-fish-for-food industry in Palawan. This comprehensive regulatory mechanism is consistent with the provisions of Republic Act No. 9147 (Wildlife Act) in order to conserve the country’s wildlife resources and their habitats for sustainability.
The tagline for the promotion of this admin order is: “Tulung-tulong upang ang buhay-buhay ay magiging panghabangbuhay na hanapbuhay.”