In the face of large-scale commercial fishing and depleted stocks, the handline tuna fishermen of Lagonoy Gulf can still dream of a better life, thanks to institutionalized support for their traditional ways. WWF works with the local government and private funders who are investing in Lagonoy Gulf’s fisheries to develop a new and sustainable source of tuna. In the process, handline fishermen are getting a boost to their livelihoods, as well as institutionalized encouragement to carry on with their age-old fishing customs.
Sustainable Handline Yellow Fin Tuna Initiatives
The WWF Partnership Programme Towards Sustainable Tuna (PPTST) supports the livelihood of artisanal tuna handline fishers by establishing long-term market access and responsible fisheries management while providing mechanisms to supply selectively-caught yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares) to market actors and environmentally conscious consumers in Europe. The ultimate goal of the project is to secure Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification for this highly selective fishery.
The project is implemented in two project sites – Mindoro Occidental (with one province) for the western Philippines and Lagonoy Gulf (with three provinces) for the east. The initiative seeks to improve the livelihoods of more than 5500 artisanal fishers in 21 municipalities from the abovementioned provinces. Efforts to improve fisheries management have been very successful.
Newly-established tuna handline fishers' organisations are starting to take on greater responsibilities in the tuna fisheries management process. Municipal and provincial fisheries management bodies have been revitalized and mobilized, escalating their roles in the management process. An MSC pre-assessment is in the works to devise a detailed roadmap towards the certification of these fisheries. A parallel initiative is also being undertaken in the small fishing village of Pasuquin in Ilocos Norte.
Training sessions on tuna handling and improved links to market systems for better economic benefits have been undergone by some 300 small yellowfin handline fishers. It is envisioned that the programme will expand to nearby municipalities with strong support from the provincial fisheries office.