Fishers group holds market-hopping to urge consumers and vendors to support local fish products

Fishers group holds market-hopping to urge consumers and vendors to support local fish products

Bacoor City, Cavite – In a small wet market (talipapa) located in Brgy. Talaba II, Bacoor City, Cavite, members of the national fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) gathered to call on the market-goers and vendors to “patronize locally-sourced fish products” instead of the imported galunggong (round scad) from China. They were joined by the Amihan peasant women group and Bantay Bigas rice watch dog who coincidingly are gathering signatures for the people’s petition to repeal the Republic Act 11203 Rice Liberalization Law. PAMALAKAYA said that this activity is part of the “Kanin at Isda: Likha ng Bansa, Ipaglaban!” campaign, or the promotion of local agricultural products and opposition to liberalization policies, particularly importation of rice and galunggong.

Last year, the Department of Agriculture (DA) approved the importation of 45, 000 metric tons of galunggong and other small pelagic fish as a solution to alleged shortage and skyrocketing of retail prices. The group strongly criticized and led protest actions against what the group said was a “liberalization of the fishing industry at the expense of the local fish producers”.

PAMALAKAYA maintains that there was no actual shortage of galunggong, and that the jack up of market price was mainly caused by the “middlemen system” wherein private traders, most commonly known in fish ports as “consignation”, secure superprofits by dictating the retail prices of fish which are much higher than the farm gate value.

“Kaming mga maliliit na mangingisda at ordinaryong konsyumer ang talo sa ganitong kalakaran. Kukuhanin sa amin ng trader ang huli namin sa napakababang P50-P60 kada kilo, pero pagdating sa palengke, umaabot pa ng P300 ang kilo ng galunggong,” Joel Falcis, PAMALAKAYA-Cavite said in a statement.

Currently, retail prices of galunggong are from P160 to P300 per kilo, from P180 to P350 per kilo by the end of December. The group said that retail prices are usually a little more of double of the farm gate prices, thus, as Palawan local fishermen sells their catch at P50 to P60 per kilo, it should be only around P120 to P150 per kilo at retail.

“The crisis in galunggong is obviously taken advantage by importers and local traders, who exploits the high prices, thus, affecting consumers. These are all triggered by the government measures such as the fishing ban, and approval of importation, instead of facilitating the supply such as bringing the cheap locally caught galunggong from Basilan to Manila,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson and former Anakpawis Party-list solon said.

Last month, it was reported in the news that 11 to 15 pieces of galunggong in Lamitan City, Basilan, or approximately 1 kilo was being sold only at P50 to P100. Also, to consider small vendors who were lured by private importers to retail imported galunggong from China, the group has instead called for the promotion of local products, instead of its earlier call for boycott.

“In the meantime, our call for the Filipino consumers and fish vendors to patronize the marine and aquatic products of our small fisherfolk will continue through market hopping and educational group discussions,” Hicap ended. ###

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