Posted by: Jimely Flores | October 10, 2017

When science is given the backseat: Fisheries Code

The Philippines had been considered as one of the data deficient countries in terms of its natural resources capital. Worst, in policy making exercises, science was never respected. While the world is scaling up from local data into mega data crunching as a means to fuel economic development, innovations and conservation of biodiversity, the Philippines is left behind into using politicians tales and less-informed citizens’ science.

Among the several fields of resource management that in dire of using real science is the fisheries sector. However, even in the newly amended Fisheries Code (RA10654), dinosaur-age provisions were still copied and adapted without thinking whether they are still applicable or not. In this certain case, analytical thinking was not even used apparently. Some of the provisions that are in need of dire revisions which should have been more thinking attention are: 15km vis a vis boat gross tonnages, active and passive gear usage, institutional structure of management, or the entire Code itself as there are certain small insertions which coukd actually be used to deny its efficiency. Let us make a management policy crafted by resources managers and users and not mere lawyers and politicians who could not even identify a fish from a plant.

Posted by: Jimely Flores | October 5, 2017

Collateral Death

My fingers are itching to type, the keyboard is waiting, my mind is so focused on one thought, my spirit is struggling for balance.

In the news is a death of an Irrawaddy Dolphin due to entanglement of its tail to a net used to catch marine organisms. IUCN rated the Irrawaddy Dolphins under the threat of extinction mostly because its habitat is a major fishing ground of blue swimming crabs and other fishes. Irrawaddy Dolphins are euryhaline species. In Southeast Asia, they are found in nearshore waters, embayments and rivers.

Blue swimming crab (Portunus pelagicus) is one of the top seafood exports of the Philippines, which destination is mostly the United States of America as a substitute for the blue crabs, Callinectes sapidus. Fishing is indeed a great source of economic security to many but I hope biodiversity will not be its collateral damage.





Posted by: Jimely Flores | April 5, 2017

In focus: the case of Hulbot-hulbot

In an event I had just attended, its surprising how many learned people (so called Ph D. holders and attorneys) are so gullible in  believing hook-line-and-sinker the mis-informations proliferated on hulbot-hulbot operations. 

What is a hulbot-hulbot?

This is a kind of fishing method that originally is a Danish Seine but was modified probably by the Japanese and introduced in the Philippines. The original Danish Seine (when set at sea) have 2 long lines called scarelines connected to both wings. In the modification (hulbot-hulbot) strips of sack materials were inserted in the twines of the lines. The lines with the hanging strips of sack materials (scarelines) make the operation more efficient in herding and enclosing the fishes and other marine organisms trapped inside the enclosure. Another modification is the use of the weights (locally called lingote) to efficiently close the wings during hauling instead of it being open as was from the original design. The weights are mostly made of concrete with two (or one) big rings made of steel where the scarelines and the wings passes through during the hauling. These two modifications made the fishing gear super efficient.

Catch composition analysis particularly the big ones indicate species associated with the sandy-muddy and demerso pelagic habitats such as bigeyes, ponyfishes, glass mojarras, lizardfishes, threadfin breams, roundscads, bigeye scads, squids, mackerels and other fishes. There are no strictly reef-related marine organisms being part of the major catch composition.

As a fisheries worker whose advocacy is efficient and realistic policy reforms to sustain the productivity of our oceans and the living resources therein, I am more concerned on the super efficiency of the fishing gear than its destruction to the habitat as per alleged by many who did not even went further than to listen to political science proliferating like fire in the news.  Its super efficiency necessitate its regulation but a total ban, may not be wise too.

I also hope there are more fisheries scientists who will step up, speak more, and do the study to help the policy makers do their job better. What happened and is happening now is a reproduction of so many paper policies seemingly good but inefficient because of lack of science foundation and better thinking.

Posted by: Jimely Flores | May 28, 2016

Philippines’ sardine supply chain: consumed product

Sardines in the Philippines is more known for its canned product-form in tomato sauce rather than part of the fresh fish commodities, when people refer ro the word sardines (sardinas) it almost always refer to those in cans sold in almost all stores in the country from the sari-sari community stores to the high end big supermarkets in the metrropolis. Cost of canned sardines typically sold in mass markets ranges from PhP10-20 depending on the size and type of the sauce used.
Another process product sardines is known for is salted dried. Salted dried is a way of processing the sardines and other highly seasonal fishes that needs less capital input. This is very common as a community small-scale industry. The main ingredient needed here is just plenty of salt and sunlight. There were however cases that even salt is not plenty enough to supply the needs of the fish salted and dried industry. Usual market prices is PhP200.00 per kilo but due to its saltiness one could only eat 2 or three pieces a meal. Dried salted sardines just like its canned form is found in most markets and one of the favored fish delicacy in remote landlocked areas.


Dried sardines

Going up the ladder of market value, still another commonly known process product of sardines is salted-smoked. This product is more expensive than the first two forms. Distribution is also more limited because of its shorter shelf life. Prices per kilo in the local markets ranges from 300 and up per kilo.
The most expensive product out of the sardines is the bottled ones. The bottles are usually with oil such as corn, canola or olive oil. Cost per bottle of only about 8-10 ounces ranges from PhP80-120. Customers patronizing this sardines product form are mostly the middle class and the elites.
Fresh whole sardines is also sold in the local market and groceries but such are not so common and abundant and its price is way below most of the other types of fish. In markets near the landing sites prices could go as low as PhP10.00 per kilo and in the metropolis as high as PhP100.00 per kilo in the big supermarkets.

Posted by: Jimely Flores | November 4, 2015

Miracle of life!

After a month-long of continous traveling, on the last few hours remaining, strange searing steady pain in my abdomen started. It accompanied chilling and a slight fever. I first thought its because of the food or water, but the symptoms seemed changing in a different direction.
Alarmed with the unusual circumstances, I went to the emergency department of a hospital. This is my second time to go in the emergency, first is my ear-intimate experience with a garden ant.
Its a learning experience how the doctors were eliminating the probabilities. Being a science practitioner, understanding what they were doing was a relief and the assurance that I wont be haphazardly subjected under the knife unnecessarily. Though I still fear the possibility of being opened, I tried focusing on getting well and let the experts do their job knowing the best will come out.
Meditations and prayers from real friends and family won. The inflammation is only some decimal fraction below the operable limit and my body and spirit are fighting the infection amazingly so well. After a few days, the doctors and nurses had to say goodbye and the friendly smiles and good wishes they send my way are treasures that will help in my recovery.
As I am writing this, I could only feel gratefulness for all the care of the hospital health practitioners and doctors, my mother, nephew, sister and some friends personal care and company, and my sisters and friends and others (church members) and the universe prayers of good wishes and fast healing and recovery. For me its another miracle of life and I am very thankful

Posted by: Jimely Flores | October 30, 2015

Rabbitfishes (danggit) for sustainable plate series

Danggit or rabbit fishes in the Philippines are one of the fave breakfast main courses cutting across all classes of the society, from the really rich folks to the marginal ones. It is served in the most expensive hotels and resorts and also in the carinderias and turo-turo food outlets.

Rabbitfishes just like other fishes are high in protein (21 grams/100g raw), less fat (0.3g/100g raw), less calorie (98/100g raw). A preferred source of protein and calories from meat.

Unfortunately for the Philippines, most of the danggit sold in the market are juvenile individuals, with very high salt content (as mostly dried) and post harvest preparation are not within accepted clean fish preparation standards. Most of the dried species served for breakfast are mixed of Siganus fuscescens, S. canaliculatus, S. guttatus and a few individuals from other species. Length at maturity of these species are 5.6cm for S. fuscescens, 22.6cm for male and 23.9cm for female S. canaliculatus, and
Most of the individuals served for breakfast are less than the indicated sizes of maturities. The length at maturity indicates that at that size, 50% of the population are mature and have the capacity to spawn at least once before they are caught and cook. Not catching these fishes before they reach the length of maturity is important for the sustainability of these very valuable resources. The danggits are mostly salted and dried, with the salt content a thousand higher than the salt needed by a healthy person. Post harvest handling and preparation is way below the standard, washed and dried in unhygienic environment.

Personally, being a field person, I avoided buying and eating dried danggit. I know I was missing so much but thanks for responsible and sustainable mariculture by isdafarms, I could now eat dried and marinated danggit/samaral without burdening my conscience and worrying about my health. Isda farms are culturing samaral/danggit in the waters off Rosario, La Union using the technology of submerged rope framed cages (a more natural method for a happier, healthier fishes). The fishes are supplemented with their natural foods. The company though very small is helping in the creation of livelihood in the small community. Recently, I bought a kilo of their dried danggit/samaral and half-dried (lamaya) marinated in the local Iloco vinegar and garlic. Its a fantastic gastro experience. Finally I will not be missing the joyous experience of eating one of the great Filipino breakfast dish. But so far, I will limit my experience to something trusted, the isda farms samaral/danggit products.

Posted by: Jimely Flores | September 29, 2015

Through my mind’s eye

4. I was never impressed by titles like Attorney, Ph D., etc.; I have met smarter and more intelligent people from the ranks of ordinary fishers, farmers and street vendors. Title and education is never a measure of intelligence.

3. I am wary of people who brags they live strictly with integrity.

2. I believe that people who opted to be single should not be discriminated. Equity.

1. When I don’t believe in something or when I am not impress, do not expect me to talk at all.

Posted by: Jimely Flores | June 22, 2015

Philippine blue swimming crab at risk

Posted by: Jimely Flores | June 21, 2015

FishFood Security: why is it an omnipresent dilemma?

Food security has been the mission, vision, goal, objective of most entities, from an individual person to small group of advocates to local national international global universal and planetary organizations from time immemorial up to the present and for sure until the future.

Is it just a goal, vision, mission, objective? Its actually a problem that needs solving.

Its an omnipresent problem burdening the highly sentient beings in a planetary scale.

Is it really that hard? Great innovations, high falutin complex equations, well-dressed and glib politicians are still groping for the answers. Why? Because most of the solutions are too complex that the simple basic foundations are missed.

As simple example. In one small bay, the fishes caught are getting smaller, rarer and worst polluted with heavy metals and carcinogenic compounds. Great famous highly esteemed scientists, money-laden organizations are pouring in. Solutions given: ban and prosecute the commercial fishers, give guns and patrol boats to drive away the blasters, poachers, illegal fishers, put up market sheds in the community, stock enhancement and other high-falutin solutions. Still the problem remains. In my solitudes, this simpleton mind keeps bugging me, why complicate things when the problem is simple. Look and count the number of good municipal fisherfolks operating in the bay, too many of them really and one of the solutions is to reduce their numbers irrespective on what fishing gear they are using. Look at the household and personal waste thrown in the bay, even the pigs refuse to swim on them, simple solution is to reduce wastes whether its biodegrable or not.


Infant Trichiurus spp. Dagupan market


Municipal fishing boats

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »