DA urged to reject galunggong importation, support livelihood of small fisherfolk
Manila, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) and its Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) have earned the ire of the national fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) over the plan to import 45, 00 metric tons of round scad, as well as the mackerel and other small pellagic fish.
In a statement, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson Fernando Hicap urged agriculture secretary William Dar to “reconsider the planned importation and focus on improving and strengthening the local fish production instead.”
The fisherfolk group has proven that importation of fish does not guarantee regularization of supply and price, instead, it would be a burden to the small fisherfolk because imported fish will outcompete local ones.
“It will be a competition between our fresh local product and imported ones which are relatively cheaper because of its inferior quality being frozen. This will also further downgrade the farmgate price of fish in small fisherfolk, just like how our rice farmers have been bearing the brunt of rice importation scheme,” Hicap, former Anakpawis Party-list solon added.
Hicap was referring to the rice importation under the Rice Liberalization Law which is being opposed by local farmers for jeopardizing the local rice industry.
“We demand the DA and BFAR not to push through with importation, instead, help the local fisherfolk develop our mode of production by providing adequate fishing gears, post-harvest facilities, and abolish the ‘middlemen’ system and directly procure fish products from fisherfolk cooperatives and associations to control the price in the market,” added Hicap.
The fisherfolk leader added that commercial fishing vessels weighing 3 gross tons above should be strictly prohibited to conduct fishing expedition within the 15-kilometer municipal waters that are intended for small fisherfolk.
“Say there is really a shortage of galunggong, it is courtesy of the overexploitation and overfishing by large-scale commercial fishing fleets that illegally enter our municipal fishing grounds. These commercial-fishing vessels are being operated by big-fish personalities including local politicians, businesses, former military and police generals, and influencial individuals,” Hicap added.
Last year, PAMALAKAYA spearheaded the campaign against importation of 17, 00 metric tons of galunggong by then-Secretary Emmanuel Pinol, warning that the imported fish from China might be contaminated by formalin, a chemical primarily used to preserve cadavers.
“The Duterte administration is so immersed in carrying out liberalization of agriculture instead of pursuing self-sufficiency and self-reliance for the country’s agricultural production. It always retreats to importation, as if it guarantees local food security amid its profit-orientation and being controlled by monopoly traders,” ended Hicap. ###