By Alexandria San Juan
Following the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) approval to import round scad or “galunggong,” a fisherfolk group called on the public to boycott these imported poor man’s fish and instead patronize locally-sourced aquatic and marine products of small fishers.
“We are calling for the Filipino people nationwide to boycott the imported galunggong from China, and declare the product as a ‘fish-ona non grata’ in all public markets,” Fernando Hicap, chairperson of Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), said on Friday.
“Fish-ona non grata,” the group explained, translates to “unwelcome fish,” as derived from the legal diplomatic term ‘persona non grata’ which means “unwelcome person.”
The group’s call came at least a week after Agriculture secretary William Dar allowed the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to proceed on the importation of 45,000 metric tons of small pelagic fish including galunggong.
The DA earlier explained that the importation will aid in stabilizing high market prices, as prices of commodity in Metro Manila increased to almost P300 per kilo due to low supply.
Meanwhile, Pamalakaya-Palawan member Ruel Araneta shared that while the retail price of galunggong in the province was at P130 per kilo, farm gate price of the fish was at P45 to P60 per kilogram.
Fisherfolk in Palawan fear that importation could further downgrade the farm gate prices, Araneta said in the same briefing.
The fisherman also lamented the three-month fishing ban for galunggong in Palawan, saying that despite the ban, commercial fishing vessels continue to encroach and conduct large-scale fishing expedition within the municipal waters and areas that are declared off season.
“Imposibleng makamit ang layunin nitong ipreserba at palakihin ang mga galunggong dahil ultimo mga semilya ay hindi ligtas sa malalaking lambat ng mga commercial fishing,” Araneta added during the briefing.
(It is impossible to achieve the goal of preserving and raising galunggong as even its semen are unsafe in large commercial fishing nets.)
According to Pamalakaya, its members will go market hopping to convince the consumers, retailers and fish vendors to reject the imported galunggong as part of their continuing protest to the importation order which they said will hurt the livelihood of small fishers.