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Fish supply enough despite Paeng, group nixes imports

Mario Balazon, Director of Taal Lake Aquaculture Alliance Inc.

THE country’s fish supply remains sufficient despite the onslaught of Typhoon Paeng and any plan to import is unnecessary and would be detrimental to local producers, advocacy group Tugon Kabuhayan said.

In a statement, various members of Tugon Kabuhayan claimed that there is no need to import frozen fish to augment domestic supply following the aftermath of Paeng.

“We want the government to know that our industry remains resilient regardless of the strong winds, rain, and flooding. Despite Typhoon Paeng affecting many fish producers, it did not hinder our production,” Mario Balazon, director of Taal Lake Aquaculture Alliance Inc., said.

“We can still supply the whole country without importing fish. Don’t use this calamity as a reason to justify importation. Support our local producers first before turning to other countries for fish,” Balazon added.

Balazon said local fishermen and aquaculture producers can supply the country’s fish requirements despite the damage caused by Paeng to some fish farms. He estimated that aquaculture sustained P22 million in damage and losses due to the typhoon.

“Approximately 200 tons of fish escaped the cages. In Calauan, Laguna, the supply of fingerlings was washed out,” he said, but quickly added that, “we are confident that in three months we will be able to re-stock again and are rest assured that this will not affect the supply of tilapia.”

Jon Juico, president of the Philippine Tilapia Association, said Pampanga fish farms were unscathed from Paeng with local harvests being non-stop.

“We are always prepared here in Minalin since we don’t use nets. We use dikes, and we are affected more by dams releasing water, not by typhoons,” Juico said.

Juico warned that any plans of fish importation may depress local prices just like last year.

“Last year the prices for bangus and tilapia plummeted because of importation,” he said.

“Our local producers were forced to sell their fish for only P60 to P70, while the cost of production per fish was at P90. It devastated the industry when the market was inundated by imports,” he added.

Norbert Chingcuanco, a co-convenor of Tugon Kabuhayan, said fish that escapes aquaculture cages will be caught by municipal fishermen, hence, ensuring continuous supply of the animal protein in the market.

“When fish from aquaculture cages escape, the municipal fishermen catch those fish. It doesn’t disappear. Our fishing industry is robust and we can always fulfill the demand. There is no need to import,” Chingcuanco said.

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