The Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) has recorded the arrival of 55 percent of the 25,056.27 metric tons (MT) of imported fish, including galunggong, a few days prior to the reopening of the Palawan fishing season, which has been closed since November 2022.
The fisheries bureau announced on Friday that the importation of frozen round scad, bigeye scad, mackerel, bonito, and moonfish for wet markets is in accordance with the certificate of necessity to import that it signed on November 10, 2017, and is valid until January 31, this year.
“The current 13,856.64 MT of imported fish augments the market demand for galunggong, which supply is expected to be limited due to the annual implementation of the galunggong closed fishing season in the Northeast of Palawan,” the DA-BFAR said.
The price of galunggong remains stable despite the ongoing implementation of the closed season, with local galunggong valued at P280/kilo and imported galunggong ranging from P220/kilo to P240/kilo.
The closed fishing season for galunggong in Palawan from November 1 to January 31 started in 2015 by virtue of joint DA and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Administrative Order No. 1 to give the species time to reproduce and grow during its spawning season and to ensure sufficient supply in the country.
Since 2015, the periodic closure on commercial fishing activities in Palawan has continuously yielded significant positive outcomes in the production of galunggong.
In 2021, the National Stock Assessment Program (NSAP) recorded an annual catch of 1,146 MT using ring, purse seine, and bagnet–an almost triple increase from the 453.89 MT annual catch logged in 2015.
Proportion of spawners also increased from 15 percent in 2015 to 44 percent in 2021 while the percentage of round scad catch in the overall catch in Palawan also grew from 15 percent in 2015 to 44 percent in 2021.
“The NSAP also noted an increase in the catch of high-value carnivore fish species like tuna as a result of the abundance of their food, which includes roundscad and other small pelagic species,” it said.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Statistics Authority and the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority (PFDA) reported an increasing trend in the volume of unloading of round scad from Palawan waters from 2016 to 2022. The province of Palawan is a major supplier of galunggong in Metro Manila with 89 percent of galunggong catch landed at Navotas Fishport Complex in 2022.
Throughout the closed fishing season, DA-BFAR’s regional office in Palawan conducted continuous patrol operations in the conservation area. In three months, DA-BFAR IV-B recorded only two violations–one in December 2022 and another on January 20–indicating improved compliance and support of commercial industries.