(MARK BALMORES/MANILA BULLETIN PHOTO)
Fish supply enough for Holy Week, BFAR assures
At a glance
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has guaranteed the public of an adequate supply of fish despite obstacles in the food supply chain, especially as Holy Week approaches and demand for fish usually rises.
Catholics refrain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday and every Friday during Lent or Holy Week, which prohibits them from eating any form of meat, including cattle, hog, chicken, and other types of meat. As a result, fish is a popular alternative protein source among Filipinos at this time.
In a recent press briefing, BFAR Spokesperson Nazario Briguera stated that the Bureau is confident in sufficient output because the nation's fishing areas have reopened following a periodic shutdown that allowed fish species to spawn.
“We are in the peak season of fishing activity, so we expect to meet the high demand for fish during the Holy Week,” he said in Filipino.
Meanwhile, Briguera stated that the BFAR is aware of some factors that may have an impact on local fish production, such as the unprecedented oil spill in Mindoro.
There could be lower fish output in Oriental Mindoro and nearby provinces following the continuous leakage of industrial oil from the sunken motor tanker Princess Empress, he said.
But despite such, he said the BFAR does not see a shortage of fish on a national scale because of the oil spill.
In addition, Briguera noted that high fuel prices and post-harvest losses remain obstacles to advancing the fishing business, but he emphasized that the Bureau has been striving to address these issues.
“Oil prices are fluctuating. Sometimes, it increases and affects fishing activities, so the DA-BFAR is implementing a subsidy program and utilizing payao technology for small-scale fisherfolk,” the official noted.
BFAR said it has been launching post-harvest interventions to address spoilage.
Per the BFAR, current fish spoilage ranges from 25 to 40 percent due to a lack of post-harvest equipment such as blast freezers, ice-making machines, cold storage warehouses, and fish landing sites.
The Philippine Statistics Authority reported that the country produced approximately 4.34 million metric tons (MT) of fish in fiscal year 2022, which was 2.16 percent higher than the local output in fiscal year 2021 and 0.16 percent higher than the DA's target of 4.33 million MT.