DEPUTY Speaker and Antique Representative Loren Legarda asked the Department of Agriculture to be transparent and disclose the real status of fish supply in the country.
Legarda made the call as she strongly expressed opposition to the plans of the DA to import some 60,000 metric tons of fish in the first quarter of the year.
According to the DA, the country needs more than 800,000 metric ton of fish to meet the demand for January to March 2022. The importation was supposedly aimed primarily at stabilizing supply and keeping prices in the wet markets from rising.
The agency said the prices of the fish is increasing as the onslaught of Typhoon “Odette” which caused P3.97 billion in damage, and affected numerous coastal and fishing communities.
But Legarda said the fishery sector is claiming that there is a sufficient supply from the previous imports and this remains unsold. The fishery industry also said that previous importations have had little or no impact on fish prices, and that the closed season is about to be over.
“We risk further marginalizing many of our small-scale fishers and coastal communities who are already vulnerable to a myriad of social and environmental changes. These policy decisions that tend to further bring down our most marginalized sectors must be based on evidence. Merely blaming Odette and not comparing other measures like faster provision of small boats and safety nets for the marginalized is not convincing,” Legarda also said.
“This archipelago is still rich in resources, which is why we are repeatedly challenged to enforce laws against poaching. Instead of prioritizing band-aid solutions that help importers and big traders but are harmful to the entire industry in the long-term, we must craft policies and spending that uplifts the poor and ensures food security for all in the long term,” she added.
The retail prices of galunggong in Metro Manila averaged between P250 to P260 a kilo last week.