Philippines eyes more galunggong imports
Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - December 9, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines will increase the imports of the poor man’s fish or galunggong as prices of the commodity have significantly jumped amid low supply.

Last week, Agriculture Secretary William Dar gave the green light to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to proceed with the importation program of 45,000 metric tons (MT) of small pelagic fish, including galunggong.

Just a few days later, DA is already mulling to increase fish imports to 100,000 MT.

“This is the effect of Typhoon Tisoy, affected areas are fish producing regions like Eastern Visayas and Mimaropa. Plus the season right now has little harvest that’s why we approve the 45,000 MT small pelagic fish imports,” Dar said.

“Some are saying that we need 100,000 MT with the typhoon. We will have a look into that. If we still have limited supply, prices will still increase. So probably, 100,000 MT,” he added.

Dar noted that BFAR has already issued some 10,000 import clearance. BFAR earlier said imports would be mostly galunggong, mackerel, pusit, and bonito.

“We will look at it in the next two weeks if the 45,000 MT is enough for the need of the country and enough to bring down prices,” Dar said.

Market monitoring of the DA showed the price of galunggong is at P240 per kilo to a high of P280. This is significantly higher than the usual price of P180 per kilo.

The high price of galunggong in the market is due to the seasonal demand and the recently implemented three-month closed fishing season in the waters of Palawan and Zamboanga.

Until March 1, 2020, commercial fishing vessels are banned from fishing within the waters of East Sulu Sea, Basilan Strait and Sibuguey Bay to give way to the three-month spawning period.

It was in September of last year when DA decided to allow the importation of fresh or chilled or frozen galunggong to beef up supply in fresh markets.

This, after fish became among the biggest contributor of the increase in inflation in the second half of 2018. Fish has been affected by the tax reform package of the government particularly on the excise tax on fuel.

A total of 117,000 MT of galunggong has been brought into the country during last year’s importation program which lasted until April 2019.

During the third quarter of the year, galunggong production decreased 7.5 percent to 40,659 MT amid smaller sizes unloaded by commercial fishing vessels, as well as the occurrence of several weather disturbances which lessened the number of fishing days and trips of both commercial and municipal fishermen.

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