PAMALAKAYA hits DA-BFAR for galunggong importation anew
Manila, Philippines – The secretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA) William Dar has earned the ire of the national fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) on Friday, over his approval to import 45, 000 metric tons (MT) of galunggong (round scad), among other small pelagic fishes.
“We have been consistently raising our basis on why importation of fish, particularly of galunggong, would not stabilize the market price and fish stocks. There is no shortage of fish to begin with, the artificial scarcity is fueled by the unjust declaration of fishing bans and off seasons in major fishing grounds in the country,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement.
PAMALAKAYA said the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has currently imposed a 3-month fishing ban of galunggong in Palawan and Zamboanga, drawing flak from the fishers’ group as they believe that this triggers ‘panic fishing’ of large-scale commercial fishing fleets prior the ban that seriously exploits the marine stocks.
“If there is really a shortage, then why would the DA-BFAR implement a fishing ban? If there is scarcity, the more the government must encourage the municipal fishers to engage in fishing in order to increase and boost the municipal fisheries production,” Hicap, former Anakpawis Partylist solon added.
Moreover, PAMALAKAYA said importation of fish is a burden to the small fisherfolk because imported fish would ‘outcompete’ local ones, further downgrading the farmgate price of fish on the small fishers.
“It unjustly pulls down farmgate prices of fresh locally-caught fish affecting poor fishermen across the country. Imported fish which are frozen and inferior in quality are obviously cheaper. This trend is akin to how local rice farmers were lambasted by the impact of imported rice facilitated by the Rice Liberalization Law. This is an added instance of how liberalization of agriculture and fisheries sabotages the livelihood of Filipino fisherfolk in the country,” he added.
Last year, PAMALAKAYA spearheaded the campaign against importation of 17, 000 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.
“Aside from not being fresh, imported galunggong is a threat to public health as they are often tainted with formalin to preserve the shelf life. Secretary William Dar and BFAR Director Eduardo Gongona expose themselves as bureaucrats who put the people’s health and welfare at risk, by promoting importation of formalin-contaminated and stale (bilasa) fish,” he slammed.
PAMALAKAYA is preparing to troop the central office of the DA next week to condemn its so-called “series of liberalization measures in the fishing sector and agriculture industry.” ###