Agriculture Secretary William Dar has given the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) the green light to proceed with the importation of 45,000 metric tons of small pelagic fish, including galunggong (round scad).
Michael Varcas/File
Philippines to import galunggong a new
Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - December 6, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines will once again import the poor man’s fish, galunggong, as prices of the commodity have shot up to nearly P300 per kilo due to low supply.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar has given the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) the green light to proceed with the importation of 45,000 metric tons of small pelagic fish, including galunggong (round scad).

“We have authorized the BFAR to issue SPSIC (sanitary and phytosanitary import clearance) and the certificate of necessity to import,” Noel Reyes, spokesman for the Department of Agriculture (DA), said at a press briefing yesterday.

“We expect these imports to come in soon so that supply in the market will increase to stabilize prices.”

Market monitoring of the DA showed that the price of galunggong ranged from P240 per kilo to as high as P280 per kilo. This is significantly higher than the usual price of P180 per kilo.

BFAR executive director Eduardo Gongona said the agency has started accepting applications and issuing permits.

“It depends on the demand needed by the market – mostly galunggong, mackerel, pusit and bonito,” Gongona said.

Reyes explained that 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.

“Demand is twice as much today. Plus the waters are colder, which means the fish are moving away prompting fishermen to go after them, thus higher consumption on fuel resulting in higher prices,” Reyes said.

He added that the 45,000 MT import would be more than enough to cover for the fishing ban.

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 until March 1, 2020.

In September last year, the DA allowed the importation of fresh or frozen galunggong to increase supply in the market.

This after fish became among the biggest contributors to 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 had been brought into the country during last year’s importation program, which lasted until April.

During the third quarter of the year, galunggong production decreased 7.5 percent to 40,659 MT in output 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.

GALUNGGONG WILLIAM DAR
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