Fishers to Marcos admin: Halt importation, end closed fishing season

Small-scale Filipino fishermen expressed their opposition to the national government’s plan to import 25,000 metric tons of fish amid the closed fishing season which will last until January 2023.

A fisherman in Cavite (Manila Bulletin File Photo)

Fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), on Sunday, Nov. 13, called on the national government to end the importation of fish and support local fish production instead.

“Dapat nang itigil ang pagdedeklara ng closed fishing season na may kaakibat na pag-aangkat ng tone-toneladang isda. Ang closed fishing season sa mga mayor nating pangisdaan at importasyon ng isda ay kapwa mapaminsala sa mga maliliit at lokal na mangingisda (The declaration of closed fishing season and the continuous importation of tons of fish must be stopped. This closed fishing season in our major fisheries will be detrimental to both small and local fishermen),” said Pamalakaya National Spokesperson Ronnel Arambulo.

This was after the Department of Agriculture (DA) released its Special Order 1002 s. 2022, laying out the guidelines on the importation of 25,000 metric tons of frozen round scad, bigeye scad, mackerel, bonito and moonfish for the Philippine wet markets during the closed fishing season which begins in November and will end in January 2023.

“Our fishers will be forced to sell their local produce at a much lower price in order to keep up with the imported fish that are relatively cheaper yet inferior in quality. This means a huge loss to the income of fisherfolk who are already battered with the inflation and high cost of production,” Arambulo furthered.

To prevent the “detrimental effects” of importation to the local fishing industry, Pamalakaya urged President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos to immediately provide assistance to fishermen by rolling out sufficient production subsidies for the marginalized sectors. They likewise reiterated their demand for the prohibition of all types of reclamation in the country.