Fish importation to hurt local production: fishermen

Plenty of mackerel, Galunggong fish on a tray, decorated with tomatoes and chili, at the Central Market in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, Philippines
FILE PHOTO: Galunggong fish on a tray, decorated with tomatoes and chili, at the Central Market in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, Philippines. (Photo: Getty Images)

Progressive groups warned that the government’s plan to import more galunggong (round scad fish) to tame prices and cover the shortage would hurt local production.

Fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) said that instead of resorting to importation, the Department of Agriculture (DA) should lift the Fisheries Administrative Order 167-3, or the ongoing closed fishing season from Nov 15 to Feb 2022, in major fishing grounds.

Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA national chairperson said that flooding local markets with imported fish will pose harm than good to the struggling fishing industry. He said that the scheme is a burden to local fisherfolks whose fishery products are being outcompeted by imported fish.

The group added that the unreasonable prices of galunggong is mainly caused by the government’s failure to regulate private traders who secure profits by jacking up the wholesale prices of galunggong, pushing retail prices to unaffordable levels.

On Monday (Jan 24), the Makabayan bloc filed House Resolution No. 2467 seeking probe on the impact of annually importing galunggong. The bloc urged the House Committee on Agriculture and Food to investigate the impact of importation on the livelihood of local fisherfolk.

It also cited the statement of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) that instead of importing galunggong, the government must enforce measures that will help increase fish production in the country.

DA announced on Jan 17 that they approved the importation of 60,000 metric tons of frozen galunggong for wet markets, noting that Typhoon Odette caused about P3 billion ($59 million) in damage in fisheries and agriculture.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) projected a fish supply shortfall of 119,000 metric tons in the first quarter of 2022.

Pola Rubio is a news writer and photojournalist covering Philippine politics and events. She regularly follows worldwide and local happenings. The views expressed are her own.

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