DA restricts sale of brown algae, sea grass

[25th, Apr 2014] The Department of Agriculture (DA) has restricted the sale of brown algae and sea grass. Under Fisheries Administrative Order No. 250, the collection, gathering, selling and exporting of brown algae and sea grass is prohibited. Violators would be… slapped prison terms of two to 10 years and fined between P100,000-500,000.

Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) director Asis Peres said the order provides an exemption. The Department of Agriculture (DA) chief, through the BFAR director, can issue special permits to collect, harvest and export Sagassum and seagrass for scientific and educational purposes only.

Peres said such exemptions are meant “to determine the ecological and socio-economic impact of the activity on the fisheries resources.”

[25th, Apr 2014] Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said global demand for seaweeds and sea grass has led to the uncontrolled trade of these resources, resulting in the loss of shelter and destruction of the food base of aquatic organisms that thrive in them.

The sea grass is an ecosystem composed of flowering plants, and as such provides an environment where fish and other marine species can breed. Likewise, seaweeds serve as nurseries and shelter for marine life.

“The mangroves, coral reefs, sea grass beds, and seaweed forests being parts of the marine ecosystems are important natural resources of the state, inter-dependent with each other, serve significant ecological functions where a balance in the over-all condition each must be maintained to ensure the survival of diverse fish and aquatic species,” said Alcala.

“It basically provides a life support system to most aquatic marine organisms,” he said.

If harvesting of seaweeds and sea grass is left unchecked, it would take decades before these marine ecosystems recover, thus threatening the entire food chain.

Orti Despuez, InterAksyon.com

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