Visayan Sea: A Fisheries Management Area
A major fishing ground in the Philippines, the Visayan Sea, is shared by 33 municipalities and cities of Bicol region, Western Visayas and Central Visayas. Its wide and varied marine habitats which include 40 square kilometers of mangrove forests, 59 square kilometers of seagrass beds and 789 square kilometers of coral reefs support a high concentration of diverse and important marine life. Data from BFAR Region 6, however, reveals a decline of fish biomass in the said waters from 1940’s up to the present which could be a result of unsustainable fishing practices.
With the passing of Fisheries Administrative Order (FAO) 263 or the Establishment of Fisheries Management Areas (FMA) for the Conservation and Management of Fisheries in Philippine Waters, the Visayan Sea, along with other important fishing grounds in the country, now has better chances at being sustainably protected and managed.
“The Visayan Sea was eyed since few years back to be the Philippine’s very first fisheries management area or FMA considering its importance as a fishing ground that needs serious measures against IUU fishing,” Gongona said.
DA-BFAR banks on multi-sectoral collaborations especially with the local government units surrounding Visayan sea, fisheries stakeholders, private sector and other relevant institutions for the conservation and management policy to be successful.
With the inclusion of the Visayan Sea as one of the FMAs nationwide, DA-BFAR sees better and coordinated management of the country’s fisheries resources. Along with other coastal resource management programs such as the Malinis at Masaganang Karagatan: The Search for the Country’s Outstanding Coastal Community, the agency strategically devises policies that will address core challenges in fisheries, not only in the Visayan sea but also in all of the country’s major fishing grounds.