DTI eyes cut in suggested price for canned sardines
In a briefing on Monday, Trade Secretary Gregory L. Domingo explained that DTI officials have been studying this move, considering that the three-month fishing ban imposed by the government if waters off Mindanao starting in December 2011, was lifted last March 2.
“We’re now asking the sardine industry players why they haven’t reduced their prices yet and they said that the catch remained small so the price of tamban being sold in Zamboanga remained high,” Domingo told reporters.
Tamban is a fish variety primarily used as raw material in the manufacture of canned and bottled sardines in Zamboanga City. To recall, the government imposed a fishing ban in areas covering East Sulu Sea, Basilan Strait and Sibuguey Bay, on December 1, 2011 and was only lifted on March 2, 2012. The reduced volume of available tamban, however, triggered a 10.8-percent increase in the price of the fish, according to the DTI.
In a separate statement issued on Monday, Trade Undersecretary Zenaida C. Maglaya, meanwhile, explained that the DTI previously allowed “increases in the prices of some brands of canned sardines earlier in the first quarter of this year when they reported the high cost of fish due to the fishing ban in Mindanao.”
“But now that the ban has been lifted, we expect a better supply of Tamban and a corresponding drop in the price per kilogram,” she added.
The DTI is now working closely with the Department of Agriculture in checking the country’s fish supply. The cost of the fish comprised the bulk of the cost of producing sardines at about 40 percent to 60 percent.
“We have also kept the line of communication open with the sardines industry. Any recorded movement in the price of tamban can be easily reported to us for easy reference,” Domingo added.
Although it resulted in revenue losses for the sardine industry, the fishing ban in Zamboanga was meant to allow the spawning of tamban and thwart the decline of sardine species. Some groups however are recommending a more thorough scientific study on the spawning behaviour of tamban.
Such study was supposedly meant to ensure that the implementation of future fishing bans would accurately fall on the peak spawning months. Hence, fishing industry will get the most out of upcoming conservation measures.
The Zamboanga Peninsula is considered as the country’s sardine capital. The harvesting and processing of this fish has contributed substantially to the regional economy. The fishing, canning and other allied industries employ up to 35,000 people in the region.
The 12 canneries based in Zamboanga City alone supply approximately 80 percent of the country’s requirements for canned sardines. Likewise, Dipolog City has become known for pioneering the processing of tamban into Spanish-style bottled sardines.
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