Fisheries sector hounded by more issues of shortages

·2 min read
A Philippine fisherman prepares to weigh a fish at the disputed Scarborough Shoal April 5, 2017. (Photo: REUTERS/Erik De Castro)
A Philippine fisherman prepares to weigh a fish at the disputed Scarborough Shoal April 5, 2017. (Photo: REUTERS/Erik De Castro)

Fish farm groups and other fisherfolk organizations are struggling to farm fish like bangus (milkfish) and tilapia due to a shortage in feeds, and lack of fish fry.

Several groups are calling on the government for help as their feed conversion ratio (FCR) – the ratio of the number of kilogram of feeds needed to produce a kilo of fish – has skyrocketed in recent weeks.

What used to be a consumption of 1.2 to 1.6 kg of feeds in farms in the Visayas enough to grow an average size of bangus, now has increased to 1.8 to 2 kilos of fish feeds, which could also spike the cost of this once-readily available fish in the market, according to the chair of Philippine Association of Fish Producers Inc., David Villaluz.

“A higher FCR translates to a P10 per kilo increase in production cost. Add the P4 per kilo increase in feeds cost [and] the total increase in production cost is P14. Small fish farms may not be able to bear these additional costs,” Villaluz said.

Meanwhile, fish ponds in Mindanao are experiencing an all-time high of FCR, up to 2.4 to 2.6 kg of feeds needed, prompting a shortage of fish fry usually exported to other countries such as Indonesia.

“The fry being shipped from Indonesia is often of low quality,” Joseph Anthony Lanzar, Malalag Bay Fish Cage Operators and Fisherfolks Association’s president, said.

The fisheries sector had asked the government in April to allow them to import process animal proteins (PAPs) from countries hit by the African swine fever (ASF), after it imposed a temporary ban in 2019.

Although the temporary ban was lifted only for aquatic feed use, the National Federation of Hog Farmers Inc. last week reiterated their appeal for PAP importation ban in order to not hamper the ongoing fight against ASF.

They said that they’re not against importing PAP for as long as it came from countries that have been declared free from ASF.

The fish farms groups are also asking for the implementation of the Brood Stock Project to lower the cost fo fish farming in the country.

“We need a central hatchery to provide adequate fry to our growers. This way, we can stop our dependence on Indonesia. We are not getting consistent fry quality from them. It can range from Class A to Class C fry, depending on the seller,” Villaluz said.

Right now, the country is also experiencing other shortages such as in oil, onion and sugar. The ball now lies with the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who is also the agriculture head, to resolve these issues.

Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments on politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. Follow him on Twitter at @marvs30ang for the latest news and updates.

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