Fisherfolk group Pamalakaya today welcomes the temporary halt of fish importation but asserts that the government should move to permanently ban fish importation.
PAMALAKAYA was reacting to the suspension of the issuance of sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances (SPSIC’s) for importing certain fish species including galunggong (round scad), tulingan, alumahan (mackerel), pampano, and tuna byproducts.
“While we welcome the temporary ban of certain imported fish in local wet markets, this should translate into actual policy that will permanently prohibit fish importation. As long as the policies of import-liberalization are in place, our market remains exposed to cheap imported fish at the expense of our local fishing industry” said Ronnel Arambulo, PAMALAKAYA National Spokesperson said in a statement.
“Specifically, the Department of Agriculture (DA) and its attached Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) should back our call to repeal the Fisheries Administrative Order 195, which serves as a legal basis to open our floodgates with imported fish” the Pamalakaya leader added .
Arambulo refutes the claim of importers that suspension of fish importation will further speed up the inflation because the middlemen system actually controls the market pricing, not the supply of fish. He explained that the retail price of galunggong (round scad) is currently at P240/kg, yet its farm gate value remains P120/kg. Because the fish products, before reaching local markets, pass through around 3-4 private traders who secure profits by marking up and consequently increase the retail prices.
“The government’s problem of imported fish entering into wet markets would be solved if there are no importation policies in the first place. We reiterate our demand for a significant state support to the local fishing industry in a form of production subsidy and ensuring the exclusive rights of Filipino fisherfolk to our fishing grounds and coastal areas”. he ended.