Fisher’s group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) on Sunday, November 13, expressed opposition anew to the plan of the government to import 25, 000 metric tons of fish, mostly galunggong (round scad), under the special order 1002 signed by Department of Agriculture (DA) Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban last week.
“How disappointing that in the midst of the crisis in agri-fisheries production, the Marcos administration still chooses to import at the further expense of our local fishing industry,” Ronnel Arambulo, PAMALAKAYA National Spokesperson said in a statement.
PAMALAKAYA said that ‘opening our floodgates for cheap imported fish’ further depreciates the farm gate value of local fish. For instance, the farm gate price of local galunggong in Zambales is at P120/kilogram, compared to its P220-P240 market price. The fishers’ group explained that when imported galunggong floods the local market, middlemen and traders will bargain the local fishery products at cheaper prices.
“Our fishers will be forced to sell their local produce at a much lower price in order to keep up with the imported fish that are relatively cheaper yet inferior in quality. This means a huge loss to the income of fisherfolk who are already battered with the inflation and high cost of production,” Arambulo added.
PAMALAKAYA demanded President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. not to pursue the importation to prevent its detrimental effects to the local fishing industry. Instead, the fishers’ group said that Marcos Jr. should address the low fisheries productivity by undertaking the group’s measures:
· – Immediate and adequate assistance in a form of relief and livelihood rehabilitation in times of devastating calamities like typhoon;
· – Rollout of sufficient production subsidy to abate the impacts of inflation;
· – Ensure the exclusive rights of Filipino fishers in their traditional fishing grounds; and
· – Prohibit all types of conversion and reclamation of coastal communities that massively displace fisherfolk and destroy marine and aquatic resources.
“Being a concurrent agriculture secretary, Marcos Jr. is duty-bound to undertake these measures that will strengthen the local fishing production, instead of continuously relying on imports,” ended Arambulo.