THE Department of Agriculture said that it is planning to suspend the importation of round scad, or “galunggong,” as the fishing season for the species opens.
“Open season na ng isda ngayon [It’s the open season for the fish now]. In fact, we’re intending to suspend the importation kasi sagana na yung isda [because the domestic supply is ample],” Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol told reporters recently.
When asked when the suspension will be implemented he said, “Baka pagbalik ko, after the Holy Week (Possibly when I return from the Holy Week holidays).”
Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) National Director Eduardo B. Gongona told BusinessWorld in a text message: “Since last year we have allowed the importation of about 117,000 metric tons of fish. Primarily round scad for the wet markets. About 17,000 metric tons ordered in the last quarter of 2018 were delivered. The 100,000 additional (has been) allocated to qualified importers.”
In terms of local production, he said he has no final information yet, though the prospects are positive. “There is more local fish production, so suspension of fish importation may happen. It depends on the suspension. For now we are not issuing any more import permits,” he said.
Early this year, the BFAR called for the protection of municipal waters to help the regeneration of the round scad fishery.
Fisheries output declined 1.13% by value in 2018, narrowing from the previous year’s 1.73% fall.
In August, ahead of the closing of the fishing season, the DA and the fisheries industry agreed to a plan to import round scad, a major source of protein for low-income Filipinos and a possible driver of inflation if supply is short.
Mr. Piñol later amended the administrative order permitting the imports, allowing their direct sale to wet markets. The original order allocated the imports to food processors.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), fisheries production volume in 2018 was 4.35 million metric tons (MMT), up 0.92% year on year.
Round scad production fell 8.15% year on year. Milkfish, or bangs, fell 3.9%; yellowfin tuna fell 11.91%; and tiger prawn fell 2.76%. On the other hand, production of seaweed, skipjack, and tilapia rose 4.45%, 4.33%, and 3.25%, respectively. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang