Prioritize support for local fishing industry over importation — Escudero
MANILA, Philippines — The national government should prioritize the development and growth of the local fishing industry to and make it more competitive over importation to address a projected supply shortage, Sorsogon Gov. Francis Escudero said Saturday.
“Bago sana bahain ng imported na isda ang merkado, sana buhusan muna ng gobyerno nang sapat na suporta ang mga Pilipinong mangingisda upang hindi sila tuluyang malunod sa kahirapan,” Escudero said in a statement.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) earlier said it will import 60,000 metric tons of small pelagic fish in the first quarter of 2022.
According to Agriculture Secretary William Dar, data from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources showed that the country has a potential deficit of 119,000 metric tons of small pelagic fishes during this period.
Escudero said DA’s announcement is worrisome, noting that the fishing industry may suffer the same fate as vegetable growers who saw their profits shrink because of smuggled imported farm products in the local market.
He said the government should rethink its plan to import fish and relax the Fisheries Administrative Order 167-3 which imposes a three-month closed fishing season.
Instead, the government can consider boosting aquaculture farming and help equip local fishermen with better boats and gears, new technological skills, modern post-harvest facilities, knowledge on environmental impacts, and up-to-date research and information about the industry, according to Escudero.
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