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Friday, April 12, 2024

DTI, DA urged to ramp up aquaculture production for fish canning industry

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House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda on Friday called on the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Agriculture to engage the canned fish sector over supply concerns, especially sardines, during the close of the fishing season in the Zamboanga Peninsula, which happens every year from December 1 to February 28.

Salceda said this is to ensure that there is no shortage of canned sardines during the subsequent season.

“It looks like supply levels remain manageable, as the industry was able to meet the 75,000 metric tons it is required to store during the closed season. But I also expect demand for canned sardines to pick-up this year,” Salceda said.

“And there remain underlying issues, like the suggested retail price (SRP) being below the cost at which some of the canners produce. With marketing costs, the price is P20, which is above the P18 SRP,” he added.

The lawmaker said he is requesting the DTI and DA to hold a dialogue with the industry and with small players and stakeholders as soon as possible so the country can prevent this potential problem from materializing.

“Right now, the most immediate probable result is a lack of supply of some brands in supermarkets, especially as manufacturers try to skip shelf-space fees in supermarkets,” Salceda said.

“We also need to strengthen collaboration with alternative fish sources, such as Papua New Guinea, which is one of our biggest sources of sardines,” Salceda added.

54 hatcheries

Salceda also said that the country needs to ramp up the completion of the 54 legislated hatcheries since only 3 have so far been completed.

“In the long run, of course, we really need to work on fish supply, because climate issues won’t get easier any time soon,” he said.

“I no longer think bashing the BFAR (Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources) is productive at this point. There is a new leadership, so I want to work with them,” Salceda said.

According to Salceda, the government needs to ramp up aquaculture.

“We source only 52 percent of our fish supply from aquaculture, and rely on capture for the rest. We can amp that up. I am already working with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources so they can finish up more hatcheries this year,” Salceda added.

“That will help us ease pressure on fish consumption in general, but we need to invest in research on sardine culture. It was only in 2018 when the first cultured sardines were successfully raised,” the lawmaker said.

For sardines, the he said mariculture is the key.

“Portugal—arguably the country best known for sardines—is already doing it, backed by solid research. So, BFAR needs a very strong research and development component as well,” Salceda added. Jovee Marie N. Dela Cruz

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