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Income and Livelihood Impacts of the Closed Fishing Season Policy for Sardines in Zamboanga Peninsula, Philippines

Seasonal closure of fishing grounds and gear restriction have become common fisheries management strategies. In the waters surrounding Zamboanga Peninsula, Philippines, such policy was implemented specifically for sardines for three months within a 12-month period starting December 2011 specifically to improve sardine stock. This study assessed the impact of the closed fishing season for sardines on income, types of livelihood, and coping mechanisms of cannery workers and fisherfolks in Zamboanga Peninsula. A total of 301 respondents consisting of 172 fisherfolks and 129 sardine factory workers from Zamboanga City and Zamboanga del Norte were interviewed for this study. Results show that the policy has a negative effect on the income of cannery workers due to the work stoppage during the closed season. The lost income during the closed season is however partially offset by the increase in work days and work hours in the open season. Minimal impact was observed on the municipal fisherfolk because of their continued fishing activities during the same period. Though there was regular work stoppage since the policy was implemented, it did not result in a permanent change in the livelihood of workers as most of them wait for the closed season to end and be re-hired by the industry. Income diversification, especially of worker households, appears to lessen the impact of the policy on household income. Despite this, there is a low adoption of coping mechanisms against policy-induced income shock and minimal assistance received to help them cope with the fisheries closure. The continuous implementation of the policy warrants a strategy to further diversify household income sources through livelihood capacity-building assistance to offset the lost income during the closed fishing season. The industry and the government should explore the possibility of uninterrupted work during the closed season to lessen the impact on income and address issues on loan repayments during the closed fishing season.


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