DA considers fish importation to meet expected supply shortfall
As the closed fishing seasons in the country’s waters draw near, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is considering plans to import fish to make up for the expected shortfall in supply during the period.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said consultations were ongoing to determine the volume of imports. According to Undersecretary Cheryl Marie Natividad-Caballero, permits were given to accommodate the importation of 30,000 metric tons of fish last year but only 26,000 MT were brought in.
To allow fish species to spawn and recover, three major seas are subjected to a three-month closed fishing season yearly as per the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR). These are the Northeast Palawan Sea (November to January), Visayan Sea (November to January) and the Zamboanga Peninsula that spans across the East Sulu Sea, Basilan Strait and Sibuguey Bay (December to March).
“This is to make up for that period when supply of captured fish is not available and supply needs have to be augmented,” Caballero said, noting that importation would always be the agency’s last resort.
Dar said the BFAR was expected to submit its recommendation to the DA by Aug. 20. Stakeholders including commercial and municipal fishers are expected to participate in the consultation as their comments would be crucial in making the decision, Caballero said.
The DA was previously slammed by consumers and industry groups for allowing the importation of galunggong. The shortage was due to several factors including overfishing and climate change, which led prices of galunggong shooting to as high as P240 a kilogram from only about P100 a kilo in previous years.