SUSTAINABLE. To enable The Department of Agriculture (DA) has approved the importation of 60,000 metric tons of fish in the last quarter of the year to ensure the stability of supply during the "closed-fishing season". DA Secretary William Dar said this is a balancing act to sustain the development of the fisheries sector and provide stable prices of fish in the market. (Photo courtesy of DA) 

MANILA – The Department of Agriculture (DA) has approved on Friday the Certificate of Necessity to Import (CNI) 60,000 metric tons (MT) of fish in the last quarter of the year.

This was recommended by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in coordination with the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority (PFDA), and in consultation with the National Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (NFARMC) and fishing industry stakeholders due to closed fishing season in several coastal areas of the country.

"This is a balancing act to enhance and sustain the development of our fisheries sector as well as provide our fellow citizens affordable fish on their table," Agriculture Secretary William Dar said.

Dar said the policy decision eases the pressure on food inflation. "This benefits mostly our poor countrymen whose purchasing power has been reduced due to the economic slowdown and the Covid-19 pandemic," he said.

The approved CNI volume of 60,000 MT includes small pelagic fishes like round scad or "galunggong", mackerel, and bonito that will be sold in public markets for the benefit of consumers, particularly in Metro Manila and fish-deficient areas in the country.

Marine fish catch has been declining through the years, DA cited a research finding. "Hence, to arrest the trend, the DA-BFAR has been implementing 'closed fishing season' in the country's major fishing grounds to allow regeneration of small pelagic fishes and other species," the agency stated.

The closed fishing season is imposed every year -- in Davao Gulf from June 1 to August 31; the Visayan Sea from November 15 to February 15; the Sulu Sea from December 1 to February 28; and Northeast Palawan from November to January.

The CNI is valid for the last quarter of the year from September 2 to December 2021 and it is slightly smaller than the supply deficiency as projected by the BFAR at 65,000 MT.

To note, the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) has recommended the importation of a maximum volume of 200,000 MT for the last quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022. (PNA