Fish cage development to boost catch, says DA

Louise Maureen Simeon - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture and local fish importers have agreed to develop fish cage farming in the country to boost production.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol recently met with fisheries product importers where the latter agreed on establishing fish cages in selected coves determined by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

This is in line with the government’s efforts to boost local fish production while strengthening and protecting the local market.

“For so long, foreign capitalists have taken advantage of our fisheries sector. They monopolize the value chain from production, processing, up to marketing and we have to change that,” he said.

“Fishes that are nurtured at coves inside fish cages taste better and are easier to market,” he  said.

BFAR plans to direct fishery product importers to establish fish cages in exchange for the approval or renewal of their importation permits.

Piñol also urged the importers to invest in local aquaculture.

To make the process easier for the importers, DA will tap government-owned Land Bank of the Philippines to offer loaning programs with low interest rates and insurance coverage from the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp.

Assistance from the Department of Interior and Local Government will also be sought to speed up the procurement of the necessary permits in the establishment of the fish cages.

The government recently approved the utilization of at least P3 billion for the development of fish cage farming in the country following an endorsement from the Department of Finance.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez has approved to use P3 billion of the P4 billion Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF).

BFAR plans to establish at least 300 large fish cages per region, estimated to cost P1 million each, including bangus fingerlings, feeds and other operational costs.

The ACEF is collected by the DOF through the Bureau of Customs from tariffs imposed on imported agricultural products.

It was, however, tainted with corruption in the past as borrowers who had connections in government, were able to access the ACEF loans without paying back their loan.

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