THE Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) has assured the public of adequate fish supply as the Holy Week nears when demand for fish increases, a high official said on March 15.
The bureau is confident of sufficient production because fishing grounds in the country have reopened after its periodic closure that allowed fish species to reproduce, DA-BFAR spokesperson Nazario Briguera said.
“We are in the peak season of fishing activity, so we expect to meet the high demand for fish during the Holy Week,” he said.
Meanwhile, the DA-BFAR acknowledges some factors that may affect local fish production, including the unprecedented oil spill in Oriental Mindoro, Briguera added.
He said there could be lower fish output in Mindoro and nearby provinces following the continuous leakage of industrial oil from the sunken MT Princess Empress. “We do not see a shortage of fish on a national scale because of the oil spill,” the spokesman said.
Moreover, Briguera also pointed out that expensive fuel costs and post-harvest losses continue to be among the challenges in bolstering the fishing industry, but stressed that the bureau has been working to address these problems.
“Oil prices are fluctuating. Sometimes, it increases and affects fishing activities, so the DA-BFAR is implementing a subsidy program and utilizing payao technology for small-scale fisherfolk,” he said.
The official also said the bureau has been launching post-harvest interventions to address spoilage.
Furthermore, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. announced that the government would build 11 more cold storage facilities on top of those already being constructed at various ports in General Santos and Cagayan de Oro, adding that he expects the cold storage facilities to be operational by the end of this year.
Current fish spoilage is between 25 percent and 40 percent because of the shortage in post-harvest equipment like blast freezer, ice making machines, cold storage warehouses, and fish landing sites, the DA-BFAR said.
Meanwhile, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority has showed that the country had produced about 4.34 million metric tons (MT) of fish in 2022, which was 2.16 percent higher than the local output in 2021 and 0.16 percent higher than the DA’s target of 4.33 million MT.
Earlier, Demosthenes Escoto, DA-BFAR national director has revealed the DA-BFAR National Implementation Plan and Matrix for 2023, copies of which were shared with regional directors, national center chiefs, division chiefs, and unit heads of the Bureau through a memorandum dated February 26.
Based on the national plan, increasing local fish production and ensuring its safety and quality were among the priority objectives this year of the DA-BFAR, which is mandated to implement the National Fisheries Program and other projects stated under the General Appropriations Act FY 2023 with a total budget of over P6.9 billion.
Image credits: Nonie Reyes