Manila, Philippines — “When will Secretary Dar ever learn that flooding the local market with imported fish does more damage than good to our struggling food industry? We never fail to remind the agriculture department that importation is not the solution to a fish shortage which is artificial in essence,” according to the national fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) on Sunday, opposing the planned importation of 60, 000 metric tons of fish.
PAMALAKAYA’s statement was aired to the media after the Department of Agriculture (DA) has approved the importation of 60, 000 MT of small pelagic fishes like galunggong (round scad), mackerel, and bonito, purportedly to augment the shortage caused by the upcoming “closed fishing season” in the country’s major fishing grounds on the last quarter of the year.
PAMALAKAYA said that even with “closed fishing seasons”, there are abundant fish stocks in the Philippine seas and that there is no need to open the floodgates with imported fish that “threatens the local fishers because imported fish outcompetes their products”.
“Sa pagpasok ng mga imported na isda, hinahatak nito pababa ang presyo ng produkto ng mga maliliit na mangingisda. Relatibong mas mura kasi ang imported na isda dahil sa katangian nitong bilasa at mababang kalidad. Kung ang kasalukuyang presyo ng galunggong ng mga maliliit na mangingisda sa Palawan ay nasa P60-P70 kada kilo, mas babagsak pa ito para tapatan ang mababang presyo ng mga papasok na inangkat na isda,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement.
“We attest that the shortage of fish is artificial as it is caused by the unregulated and unjust declaration of closed fishing season in our major fishing grounds. Following the government’s reasoning for importation, why declare a fishing ban that generates an alleged shortage in the first place? Moreover, even closed seasons are in place, we have lots of fishes in our seas, importation is just unnecessary,” Hicap added.
Hicap, a former Anakpawis Party-list solon during the 16th Congress said that the “closed fishing season” is detrimental to the livelihood of small fishers who are being prevented from catching fish within the closed fishing waters. The fisherfolk leader also lamented the lack of compensation and government subsidy for the affected fishers during the closed season.
PAMALAKAYA since 2018 has been at the forefront in opposing the liberalization of fisheries industry through importation.
“The government’s liberalization policies exacerbated the import-dependent characteristic of our fisheries industry to the detriment of our local fisherfolk. Instead of holistically addressing the constant agricultural crisis, the government always resorts to band-aid solutions like importation,” ended Hicap. ###