Despite the recent typhoons that hit some parts of the country, fish producers in Batangas and Pampanga assured that there is enough supply of fresh water fish. The problem is there is no demand.
In a briefing hosted by food advocacy group Tugon Kabuhayan, Philippine Tilapia Stakeholders Association President Jon G. Juico said that demand for tilapia has been going down since last year and that even with the recent rains, the supply of the fish product was not affected.
“We are brimming with tilapia supply in Central Luzon. Our problem is that the demand has been down since last year, maybe because of the pandemic and our declining economy,” Juico said.
According to him, the farm-gate price of palay stood around P70 per kilogram (/kg) now, compared to pre-pandemic average price of P80/kg to P85/kg. The cost to produce tilapia stood around P60/kg to P65/kg.
“Considering that there were typhoons, prices should have spiked but it didn’t. The demand is really down,” Juico further said.
“I hope our countrymen will support the local production of tilapia and bangus right now and prefer them over imported products,” he added.
Based on the price monitoring report of the Department of Agriculture (DA), the prevailing retail price of tilapia at select markets in Metro Manila averages around P90/kg to P140/kg.
For his part, Mario Balazon, director of the Taal Lake Aquaculture Alliance, Inc. (TLAAI), which is composed of 3,000 fish farmers, also said the recent typhoons damaged over 1,000 fish cages in Taal Lake but it doesn’t mean the fish are gone.
“We’re now in the process of putting the fish back in their cages. Those that can’t be recaptured will surely be caught by other fishermen and consumed by nearby communities,” Balazon told reporters.
Meanwhile, Tugon Kabuhayan joined local fish farmers in appealing to the public to prioritize local fish like bangus and tilapia.
“Bangus and tilapia are much more affordable than galunggong. Retail prices of these aquaculture species are more stable as tilapia currently retails in our wet markets at P120 and bangus at P160 while galunggong sells at P240,” the group said.
Earlier, the group said the Department of Agriculture’s decision to allow 60,000 metric tons (MT) fish importation is “excessive”, stressing there is sufficient local production to cover projected supply shortfalls during the forthcoming closed fishing season.
Instead of relying on imports and issuing more Certificates of Necessity to Import (CNI) next year, the group urged DA to support domestic producers.
“Helping small fisherfolk and local fish producers makes more economic sense than continuously relying on imports,” Tugon Kabuhayan further said.