Pangasinan fishermen unite to save ‘bangus’ industry

By Alexander Villafania

LINGAYEN, PANGASINAN - Months after recovering from a disastrous fish kill, several aquaculture stakeholders have vowed to work together to improve Pangasinan's bangus (milkfish) industry.

The plan is to come up with a comprehensive program that would also prevent a repeat of the fish kill in May. The commitment was made by several fish growers and local leaders during a recent forum organized by the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPAG) and the regional office of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

A “strategic package” was presented by the BFAR during the forum, which aims to help the province recover from the effects of the fish kill. It identified certain problems that need to be resolved, including “syndicated pricing,” lack of open discussions among fish farmers and other stakeholders, and mismatch of production against expected and potential market demand for specific fish products.

BFAR Regional Director Nestor Domendan said there is a need to start using a systematic strategy that would harmonize the province and the fish growers’ efforts. He also stressed that fish farmers have to “win back market patronage of Pangasinan bangus.”

OPAG Office-in-Charge Dolly Moya said the provincial office will be implementing programs to strengthen the bangus industry, which is actually the signature business of Pangasinan.

Moya noted that the provincial government immediately conducted consultations and dialogues with fish farmers from affected coastal towns. The office of Governor Amado Espino, Jr. ordered that preventive measures have to be adopted to ensure that a repeat of the fish kill would not happen.

The fish kill in May affected the fishing towns of Anda and Bolinao. Losses were in the millions and also affected the reputation of Pangasinan, especially Dagupan City.

The Pangasinan incident followed a similar fish kill just a few days prior in Batangas, though both events were unrelated.

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