The government will be importing frozen fish and other aquatic products for wet markets to balance the ban on the catching of round scad (galunggong) this November to January 2021 and food sufficiency amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) MIMAROPA regional director Elizer Salilig said this as his agency announced that the sixth closed fishing season of round scad or galunggong in northeastern Palawan will begin Sunday to January 31, 2021.
The three-month ban on galunggong catching is an annual initiative of both the commercial fishing industry and the government pursuant to Department of Agriculture-Department of Interior and Local Government (DA-DILG) Joint Memorandum Order No. 1 of 2015.
It is consistent with Republic Act No. 8550 as amended by Republic Act No. 10654, BFAR said in a press statement released on October 31.
Salilig said the importation will be implemented under Fisheries Administrative Order No. 259, which contains the importation of frozen fish and fishery/aquatic products during closed and off-fishing seasons or during the occurrence of calamities.
“Sa ngayon kasi, pagdating ng September 15 ay ina-allow yong ating Fisheries Administrative Order 259, ina-allow ang importation from November to December. During closed season ina-allow naman natin ang importation,” he said in an interview with Palawan News.
“Pagdating ng December 30, lahat ng importation ay cut na rin ‘yon. Yong fish sufficiency ay naba-balance pa rin dahil wini-welcome natin ang mga importer or importation din ng galunggong sa ibang bansa,” Salilig added.
In a separate press statement, BFAR said the moratorium in the previous five years has “paid off with evident results” recorded.
Based on the findings of the Technical Working Group and Supports Group (TWG SG), there is an observed positive indication of highly significant compliance.
“Support of the industry” was also recorded as shown by the fact that there was low apprehension based on the reports of the Law Enforcement Support Group (LESG) that conducted full patrol operations in the management area.
BFAR added that based on the data report of the Science and Technical Support Group (STSG) which was presented by the NSAP MIMAROPA and Western Visayas, an increasing trend in the annual catch of galunggong of both commercial and municipal fishing boats from 2016 to 2020 were observed.
“In addition, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) and the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority (PFDA) have recorded an increasing volume of production from Palawan. Furthermore, the increase in the maturity size of galunggong, percentage of spawners and catch per unit of effort (CPUE) were also noted, which indicates possible stock recovery,” the statement said.
Based on the figure of the bureau, some 161 fisherfolks will be affected by the moratorium from the towns of Narra, Roxas, Araceli, Coron, and Busuanga. The assistance will be given by the Livelihood Support Group to the fisherfolk of the province.
The government has provided interventions through the Department of Agriculture (DA) by providing vegetable seeds, fertilizers, and amelioration to the members of the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) under Sustainable Livelihood Program.
The release of livelihood assistance will be given to qualified beneficiaries upon the submission of their pending requirements, BFAR added.