DA assures stable fish supply

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DA assures stable fish supply

AMID the rising prices of pork and chicken products, the Department of Agriculture (DA) on Tuesday assured that there is enough supply of fish, which is an alternative protein source for Filipino families.

In a virtual briefing, Agriculture Undersecretary for Agri-Industrialization and for Fisheries Cheryl Natividad-Caballero reported that the country’s current fish stocks would be enough for the first half of 2021.

Citing DA data, Caballero said national fish supply for the first and second quarter may reach to 855,073 metric tons (MT) and 938,123 MT, respectively. This means that total stocks for the first semester would be at 1.793 million MT, as compared to the expected demand of 1.666 million MT. Thus, the department expects a surplus of 126,342 MT of fish.

Coming to the second half of 2021, however, the country is expected to see a shortfall of 52,064 MT as total production may reach 1.642 million MT. The demand is seen to grow at 1.694 million MT for the last six months of 2021.

Local fish supply for the third quarter is expected to hit 817,784 MT, while that of the last quarter may total to 824,633 MT.

To augment this, Caballero said the DA, through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), will continue to pursue conservation and sustainability measures “to create an industry for every commodity.” She also noted the recent creation of a subtask group on aquaculture.

“This groyp will take charge in increasing aquaculture or fish farming in cooperation with the different agencies of the government,” Caballero said partly in Filipino.

Among these agencies are Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Energy, National Security Council, and National Irrigation Administration.

She also stressed that: “we work with our responsible fishermen, particularly with our commercial fishers to really comply with our regulations.”

To date, aquaculture contributes to 54 percent of the country’s total fish supply, while captured fisheries accounts for 23 to 24 percent, and commercial fisheries at 22 percent.
“We have three times large production areas compared to agriculture. We are an archipelagic country so we have that advantage in terms of our sources,” Caballero said.

Based on DA’s latest monitoring report, the prevailing prices of bangus (milk fish) was at P160 per kilo; tilapia (oreochromis niloticus) at P120 per kilo; local and imported galunggong (round scad) at P240 per kilo; and alumahan (Indian mackerel) at P340 per kilo.