(File photo from DA Communications Group)

Agriculture Secretary William Dar has issued a certificate of necessity to import (CNI) for 60,000 metric tons (MT) of small pelagic fish in the first quarter of 2022 to address a forecasted fish supply shortfall.

Dar signed the CNI after Typhoon Odette caused substantial damage to the fisheries subsector, as well as reduced fish production due to the restricted fishing season.

During the Laging Handa Public Briefing via PTV 4 on January 18, he said it is not true that the country has sufficient fish stocks.

“We are working on the DA-BFAR’s (Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources) projection of a 119,000 MT fish supply deficiency this quarter,” he said.

“We are bolstering the aquaculture sector to close gaps in fish production and sustainably improve our catch,” he added.

Fisheries remain one of the hardest-hit subsectors in the aftermath of Typhoon Odette, with a total value loss and damage of roughly P4 billion.

As global petroleum and fish feed prices rise, the DA predicts increases in fisheries and aquaculture input costs.

“We are, as always, striking the crucial balance to ensure fish security among consumers while coming to the aid of our fish producers,” Dar said.

The DA has allotted P50 million (M) of its P 1B Quick Response Fund post-Odette for the distribution of marine diesel/gasoline engines, the fabrication of durable fiberglass fishing boats, and the distribution of fisheries relief goods such as canned tuna, sardines, and frozen fish. The amount adds to the P 35M-worth of fisheries interventions already distributed in the most affected region.

The CNI is seen as a means to stem the high prices of fish, which are hurting swathes of the Filipino population obtaining their protein sources from small pelagic fish, such as galunggong (round scad), sardines, and mackerel.