Declining catch prompts fish imports



Local wet markets will soon be selling more imported fish.

The Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources on Monday said it was finalizing an order that would ensure a more transparent and wider importation of various fish species to the Philippines.

“We are hoping to finish it by the end of the year,” BFAR Director Asis Perez told reporters Monday.

The BFAR had said it was compelled to open the domestic market to imported fish because of declining fish catch in the country.

The national stock assessment program of the bureau showed that 10 of the 13 fishing grounds that were mapped are “very heavily exploited.” These areas have more than 70 fishermen per square kilometer.

In the last two years, the fisheries subsector has been recording declining catches. In 2011, it recorded a 4-percent drop to 4.98 million metric tons after conservation measures were implemented to enable exploited fishing grounds to recover.

Fish accounts for 80 percent of the animal protein intake of Filipinos, each of whom eats 32 kilos of fish and other marine products annually.

Because the Philippines is struggling to meet its population’s growing demand for fish, the government is keen on regulating fish importation, Perez said.

The BFAR is discussing the proposed order with various stakeholders.

Huge resistance

Perez said they had encountered “huge resistance” from companies over the documentation of their fish imports.

The BFAR chief noted that fish such as sardines, salmon, pangasius and mackerel were already being imported by food processing companies.

Last year, the Philippines imported 860,000 metric tons of fish and fish products.

However, there were also instances of fish smuggling. But Perez said they could not give figures on smuggled fish.

These smuggled products are usually cheap and consist of common fish species such as galunggong and sardines, which come from China and Taiwan.

Marginal fishers

Perez said these end up in public wet markets and compete with the catch of local fishermen, who are mostly marginal fishers.

Perez said the new order would address this as it would make fish importation more transparent and provide the government with more revenue from taxes.

“This proposed regulation says that if you want to import fish for sale in the wet market, we should know about it,” Perez said.

The BFAR director said they would follow similar rules on importation set by the National Food Authority, which oversees rice and corn importation.

Perez said the BFAR would determine the demand for a given year and the catch projection. The difference between the two figures would be the basis for the fish import quota, he said.

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  • novaliches

    this is the mother of all insults. a country of 7000 islands importing fish.

    • farmerpo

      Sinabi mo pa. Dito sa amin, nagkakapestehan ang tilapia ni hindi gumagalaw ang gobierno, local o national. Bankarote na mga farmers. Import, comisyon, import, pera na. Mapa bigas o isda, import….

  • pnoy0612

    import tayo sa china… yung mga isdang galing sa scarborough…

    gunggong! (aka. galunggong)

  • sigena

    una rice imports , ngayon isda. galing talaga ng mga abnoy officials

  • farmerpo

    Naka.. tagal ko nang kumakain ng galunggong galing Taiwan… huli dito sa Pinas. Marunong tagalog eh… Isda di kulang, gamit ang wala. Talo tayo ng hi-tech na fishermen. Talo din tayo sa biyahe ng huli. Puro kotong, puro kotong. Bili na lang sa Taiwan. mura pa.

  • dabu

    What else is new in the Philippines.

  • sweet_m

    Parte ba to ng foreign investment and partnership program?

  • vendetta07

    because china is sucking the ocean dry

  • billy gunner

    the reason why the government is helll-bent on importing fish is the kickbacks officials will receive from imports. same reason why we have to import grains and vegetables. the problem is that the government is not doing anything to really uplift the lives and trade of fishermen and farmers. the government could have provided substantial subsidies to our agriculture and fishery since the philippines is fortunate enough to be geographically situated in the globe where climate and nature is not so unforgiving. and when i say substantial, hindi pwede ang pwede na. i don’t really believe in the need to import agricultural and marine products because we are filled to overflowing so to speak–only that the government officials are thinking only of themselves on what they can reap. we are rich in resources but the government’s priorities are misdirected into fleeting agenda where politics and future are polarized.

  • Lionel Uehara Uy

    ‎7000+ islands and where importing fish? :

    cause import tax revenue is better than spending to fix the problem. our government are smart in these kinds of s****. just saying

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