March 3, 2024

Bicol Express News

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DA-BFAR, local sardines cannery ink supply deal; small fishers protected from underpayment

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The Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) and the Canned Sardines Association of the Philippines (CSAP) signed a deal to ensure unhindered supply of sardines for the coming closed fishing season.

The memorandum of agreement (MOA) was a result of the recommendations which were raised by various sardine industry stakeholders mainly to engage selected registered municipal fisherfolk groups to sustain the supply of sardines.

Meanwhile, the Fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) welcomed the deal as it will protect fishers from underpayment by merchants.

PAMALAKAYA , in a statement, said they will coordinate with their regional chapter in Bicol to monitor the farm-gate pricing of tamban or lawlaw, a local term for a collective species of herring, in Sorsogon province, which is among the areas covered by the agreement.

”BFAR must also ensure that the merchants will not cheapen the products of municipal fishers to prevent further losses of income,” said PAMALAKAYA national chairperson Fernando Hicap.

Signing the MOA, DA-BFAR officer-in-charge Demosthenes Escoto said that “Aside from sustaining, and ultimately increasing, the supply of sardines for canneries, the agreement intends to capacitate municipal fisherfolk on proper fish handling, food safety standards, and processing technologies.”

Fishing season temporarily closed, 3 months

The closed fishing season, which will start this coming November prohibits the catching of sardines, herring (Clupeidae) and mackerel (Scombridae) within conservation areas.

Meaning, by November 1, the catching of the fish species in the Visayan Sea will be prohibited.

Other scheduled fish bans will be on November 15 in the Palawan Sea and December 1 in the Zamboanga Peninsula.

The planned three-month fish ban period on herring is to give way for its reproduction and the fry to mature.

Fair trade with small fishers

According to the MOA, “Sardine manufacturers under the CSAP must observe fair trade in negotiating with identified small-scale fishers, as well as strictly comply with the terms and conditions in the Purchase Order”.

DA-BFAR, for its part, will provide post-harvest support and needed equipment in fish landing sites where sardines will be consolidated.

CSAP President Benjamin Sy said that their group will ensure the employment of hundreds, if not thousands, of factory workers and adjacent industries when the canneries can continue to operate during the three-month fishing ban.

Extra protection for fishers

PAMALAKAYA asserted that the farm-gate price of tamban must not be less than 70% of the retail price, which ranges from ₱120 to ₱130, for it to be favorable for local producers.

Hicap lamented that fisherfolk cannot endure any further loss of income and demanded a “big-time rollback” on petroleum products as fishing costs mostly went to fuel expenses.

Oil companies apparently announced this week a paltry oil price rollback ₱0.35 per-liter for diesel and ₱1.10 for gasoline.