Keep imported GG off our plates, Piñol told
Manila, Philippines – In a press conference held at the House of Representatives on Wednesday, former Anakpawis Party-list Representative and now National Chairperson of the fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) Fernando Hicap slammed the proposal of Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Emmanuel Piñol to allow importation of round scad (galunggong) for direct sale to market before to the closed fishing season on November, saying flooding the local market with imported fish products will further downgrade the value of aquatic and marine products of Filipino fisherfolk.
Piñol said he would be allowing not only traders, but also fisherfolk and fish vendors associations to import.
“Piñol’s proposal is absurd; he knows that small fisherfolk are incapable of importing fish and only commercial fishing firms and giant traders will only benefit from this import-dependent scheme. Piñol will facilitate the profit-generation of traders and importers at the cost of livelihood of Filipino fishers,”
“Flooding the local market with imported fish products will put the local food producers at the losing end,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
The fisherfolk group also questioned the planned closed fishing season of galunggong when its production has dropped by 9.5% in the first half of 2018, as stated in the data of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). Only giant commercial fishing fleets, the group added, will benefit from the closed fishing season as they are the ones who exploit the fish species in the municipal waters. Known as the poor man’s fish, galunggong accounts to 17.8% of commercial fisheries production, while it only contributes 6.2% to municipal fish production. This means galunggong is being monopolized by big fish firms and it will only be conserved so that commercial fishing fleets will have bounty of catch after the close season.
“It is very apparent that the planned closed season is meant to preserve galunggong for commercial fishing purposes. Giant fleets are the ones who exploit and catch tons after tons of galunggong in the first place, thus they should be prohibited from catching the specie and most of all, prevent them from entering municipal fishing waters intended for small-scale fisherfolk,” added Hicap.
PAMALAKAYA urged Piñol not to push through with his unlimited importation proposal or he would face the strong resistance of Filipino fisherfolk as well as consumers who will be primarily affected by this liberalization scheme. ###