BFAR’s galunggong importation plan hit
Manila, Philippines – Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Director Eduardo Gongona has earned the ire of the militant fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) over the plan to import 30, 000 metric tons (MT) of staple fish, primarily galunggong (round scad), purportedly as a “conservation measure” for three-month closed fishing season starting on December.
In a statement, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson Fernando Hicap chided the BFAR for its declaration of closed fishing season and “using it to justify” importation.
“Even with the closed fishing season, there are still many fish in the seas and in the market to choose from. No need to open our floodgates for imported fish because it threatens our local fishers whose fishery and marine products have been always outcompeted by imported ones,” Hicap said.
PAMALAKAYA said that importation “further pulls down” the farmgate prices of fish from small fisherfolk, as imported ones are “relatively cheaper due to inferior quality being frozen”.
The fishers’ group likewise questioned the three-month closed fishing season as it would create “artificial shortage” and moreover, would have a heavy impact on the small fisherfolk.
“Magdedeklara ng fishing ban na lumilikha ng ispekulasyong may shortage ng isda, para bigyang katuwiran ang pag-aangkat. Taun-taon na lamang ganito ang solusyon ng pamahalaan sa krisis sa pangisdaan. Saan rin kukuha ng kabuhayan ang mga mangingisdang hindi makakapangisda sa loob ng tatlong buwan?” Hicap, former Anakpawis Party-list solon added.
By pushing for importation, PAMALAKAYA added, the BFAR “negates itself” as it is mandated to work for fishery production and productivity enhancing and market development programs in fishing communities.
“With the agency embracing import liberalization, it is only undermining the outcome of the core programs relating to increasing productivity and household incomes of small fisherfolk families,” ended Hicap. ###