Group seeks gov’t help for fisherfolk
An industry group is urging the government to provide more assistance to local fisherfolk as the demand for fish exports remained weak because of the trade restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
In a virtual press conference on Monday, Tugon Kabuhayan convenor Asis Perez said prices of seafood have gone down by as much as 52 percent as the export market continued to reel from transport constraints, causing some fishers to lose a significant market they have depended on for years.
“A huge crab is usually sold for P2,500 a kilo but now you can buy it for P1,200 a kilo in Manila. It’s good for local consumers because they can now buy quality seafood, but the export market has really been challenging,” he added.
Perez, a former director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, noted that certain supply routes going to Japan and Europe—where most of the country’s tuna exports go—have been stifled by flight suspensions. This has caused fishers’ income to dwindle especially now when the demand for canned fish products has already declined.
“During the start of the pandemic, there was an initial windfall in the demand for canned goods because of panic buying. But after that a big part of production [lost a market]. There has been a disruption in the supply chain,” he said.
To ease the burden of local fishers, Perez said the government must invest in the establishment of cold-storage facilities and ice plants to at least lengthen the shelf life of seafood products. This may be done with help from the private sector.
Currently, about 40 percent of local fisher’s catch get spoiled because of the absence of ice-making plants and cold storage. The oversupply may even make things worse for the industry.
The Department of Agriculture has heavily relied on its Kadiwa program to encourage consumers to buy local food commodities to ease the oversupply of certain goods.
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