The Philippines will import 60,000 tonnes of small pelagics to make up for a possible supply shortfall, the agriculture department said on Tuesday.
The country faces a potential shortfall of 119,000 metric tons of pelagic fish this quarter, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said, citing data from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.
He said Typhoon Odette, the most powerful typhoon of 2021 which hit the central and southern Philippines last month, caused some 3.97 billion pesos in damage to the fishing sector and left its capacity of production “in question”.
Dar noted that high fish prices would accelerate inflation.
Taking all this into consideration, the official said, “I just signed yesterday a certificate of necessity to import for this first quarter the quantity of 60,000 metric tons of small pelagic fish to be imported for this quarter of the year.”
These fish live in the pelagic zone of ocean or lake waters, which is neither near the bottom nor near the shore.
Galunggong is an example of a pelagic fish. Its price has recently increased by 20 to 40 pesos per kilo in some markets in Metro Manila.
Asked what could be behind the price increase, Dar said there were delays in the release of imported galunggong from cold stores to wet markets.
He said he ordered the authorities “to ensure that, you know, this imported galunggong, reaches the wet markets as it does.”
“That is the very reason why we are bringing in an additional increase in supply. The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources has the authority to open these cold stores and ensure that this is brought to the wet markets,” he said in a televised public briefing.