Fishers group moves to end ‘middlemen practice’ to lower fish prices
Filipino fisherman catches fishes at a flood control facility in Taguig City | PVI/Francis Malasig
QUEZON CITY, Philippines – A group of fishermen called on the government to stop the proposed importation of “poor man’s fish” or galunggong.
According to the group “Pamalakaya,” importation of round scad is not the solution to the rising prices of fish variety in local markets today but the old practice of employing “middlemen” in the local trading system.
“Halimbawa sa isang fish port, makakarating doon sa consumer ay mga apat hanggang limang kamay na ang dadaanan. Sa bawat dadaanang kamay niyan ay tumutubo sila,” said the group’s representative Fernando Hicap during a protest in front of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Office in Quezon City on Wednesday (August 22).
Hicap said such is the reason why the price of galunggong skyrocketed to P180 to P200 a kilogram.
The group also expressed concern that importation may pose a health risk as the imported fish may be loaded with formaldehyde.
They argued that consumers may choose to buy a different variety of fish if in case there is no supply of galunggong available in the market for a certain period.
But according to Agriculture undersecretary and BFAR director Eduardo Gongona, there is scarcity in supply of round scad, hence the need for importation. For now, commercial fishing vessels couldn’t enter the municipal waters due to the law on unreported and unregulated fishing or R.A. 10654.
“Ang fish ay contributory doon sa inflation rate natin na 5.7. Kailangn hindi na tumaas iyon at hindi na mag-rise uli ang presyo niya. Ang immediate solution niyan is to import,” Gongona said.
The agency assured strict quality control over the importation process to ensure that the products are free of formaldehyde content.
The official also assured that the government is finding ways to limit the number of agents being employed as middlemen in order to reduce fish prices. – Rey Pelayo / Marje Pelayo
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