With pork and chicken prices in Metro Manila markets still relatively high, consumers are assured of enough supply of fish, which could fulfill the metropolis’ demand for an affordable source of protein.
In a statement, Asis Perez, convenor of food security advocacy group Tugon Kabuhayan, said that even with Taal eruption last year, fish cages in Taal Lake only sustained minor damage. Thus, the abundance of tilapia supply.
“Our group is confident of meeting growing demand. We have plenty of Tilapia in Taal Lake and other fish grow out areas in the country,” Perez, who is the former director of Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), said.
Perez said his group is closely monitoring the situation with Taal Lake Aquaculture Alliance, Inc.
Citing figures from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Tugon Kabuhayan said fish production volume from aquaculture, commercial, and municipal waters peaks during the second quarter of every year.
Thus, the group said more fish is anticipated to be available as the closed season of round scad or galunggong ended on January 31.
“We’re confident that our population can still be nourished despite increasing prices of most commodities as fish becomes more available and more affordable. Apart from this positive trend, the aquaculture industry is also ready to further contribute in steadying the supply,” the group said.
Last year, the aquaculture sector produced 2.3 million tons or 52.77 percent of total fisheries production.
Likewise, Tugon Kabuhayan predicts that fish prices will decrease in the following months based on last years’ trend wherein the prices of galunggong and bangus went down by as much as P50 to P60 per kilogram (/kg).
Based on the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) price monitoring, pork has peaked in January this year at P400/kg, while aquaculture commodities bangus and tilapia can be bought only at P170 and P120/kg, respectively.
The price of these aquaculture commodities is also far lower than local and imported galunggong, which range from P200 to P260/kg.
The group further observed that tilapia production is growing that many ambulant peddlers are selling the fish onboard tricycles even in far-flung barangays in Quezon province at P100/kg.
“We have lots of fish. All we need to do is to ensure that we’re able to make it available to consumers, especially in population centers like Metro Manila” Perez said.
Based on previous data from PSA, the country’s total animal protein requirement is 57 kg per capita per year. Of that, 37 kg come from fish. The requirement for other meat like pork and chicken is 20 kg.
In another development, BFAR already lifted the three-month closed fishing season in the Visayan Sea at midnight of February 16, 2021.
Under the Fisheries Administrative Order (FAO) No. 167-3 s. 2013, the government places the Visayan Sea and its vicinities under closed fishing season from November 15 to February 15 annually in order to ensure the protection and conservation of sardines and herrings (Clupeidae), as well as mackerels (Scombridae) in the said fishing ground during their spawning period.
Recent data from PSA shows an overall Philippine production of 391, 175.92 metric tons (MT) of sardines in 2020. Out of this volume, 15, 782.52 MT or 4.03 percent came from the Visayan Sea.
There are six major fishing grounds and several other fishing areas for sardines in the country.
On the span of the implementation of sardine closed season in the Visayan Sea, BFAR, through its Fisheries Protection and Law Enforcement Group (FPLEG), conducted land-based and seaborne patrol operations, as well as monitoring and surveillance operations through the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS).
From November 2020 to February 2021, the Bureau deployed a total of eight floating assets and 38 field personnel in the Visayan Sea, apprehending four vessels for unauthorized fishing and one for the use of destructive methods of fishing.
Meanwhile, Tugon Kabuhayan is encouraging more investments not only in fisheries production but also on cold chain and logistics “to ensure that every commodity that we produce is not rotten or wasted but eventually find its way to the market on time and still fresh”.