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DA okays importation of 60,000 MT of fish

  • The Department of Agriculture has approved the issuance of certificates for the importation of 60,000 metric tons of fish to augment local production, maintain sufficient supply and keep prices affordable
  • The approved Certificate of Necessity to Import volume includes small pelagic fishes like roundscad or galunggong, mackerel, and bonito
  • The CNI is valid from September 2 to December 2021

The Department of Agriculture (DA) has approved the issuance of certificates for the importation of 60,000 metric tons (MT) of fish to augment local production, maintain sufficient supply and keep prices affordable.

DA in a statement said the decision to issue Certificates of Necessity to Import (CNI) for fish is also in view of the closed fishing season.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the move was recommended by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) following coordination with the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority (PFDA) and consultation with the National Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (NFARMC) and fishing industry stakeholders.

“We are doing a balancing act, wherein our primordial concern is to enhance and sustain the development of our fisheries sector, and provide our fellow citizens affordable fish on their table,” Dar said.

“Further, such policy decision eases the pressure on food inflation, thus benefiting mostly our poor countrymen whose purchasing power has been reduced due to the economic slowdown and the Covid-19 pandemic,” the DA chief added.

The approved CNI volume of 60,000 MT includes small pelagic fishes like roundscad or galunggong, mackerel, and bonito to be sold in public wet markets, particularly in Metro Manila and fish-deficient areas in the country.

The CNI is valid from September 2 to December 2021. The approved quantity is slightly smaller than the supply deficiency of 65,000 MT for the fourth quarter as projected by BFAR.

DA noted that the National Economic and Development Authority had recommended the importation of a maximum volume of 200,000 MT for the fourth quarter of 2021 and first quarter of 2022.

DA said research studies show that marine fish catch has been declining through the years. Hence, to arrest the trend, BFAR has been implementing closed fishing seasons in the country’s major fishing grounds to allow small pelagic fishes and other species to regenerate.

The closed fishing season is imposed every year in:

  • Davao Gulf – June 1 to August 31
  • Visayan Sea – November 15 to February 15
  • Sulu Sea – December 1 to February 28; and
  • Northeast Palawan – November to January

Under Fisheries Administrative Order No. 259, Series of 2018, the DA Secretary, upon the recommendation of the BFAR, in coordination with the PFDA, and in consultation with the NFARMC and fishing industry stakeholders, should issue a monthly importable volume for the duration of the closed fishing season.

The policy decision takes into consideration the historical volume of production for the last five years, the level of demand/projected consumption, and existing trends of fish prices in the market.

Dar has also signed an administrative order enumerating the guidelines for effectively implementing the said CNI.

Under the guidelines, only importers who are ofgood standing and are compliant with food safety guidelines as required by BFAR and/or Department of Health to prevent the spread of COVID-19 variants will be allowed to participate in the importation. They should also strictly comply with the Food Safety Standards.

Prospective importers should have no cancelled sanitary and phytosanitary import clearance (SPSIC) covered by the previous CNI, and should have imported at least 70% of the total volume issued during the last importation period.

Importers should sourceout supply from respectable sources and not engaged in illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.

The 60,000 MT volume will be apportioned through an auction system. BFAR will process the SPSICs of winning auctioneers and endorse them to the DA secretary for approval. Transfer of allocation is not allowed.

The imported fish should arrive in the Philippines within 20 days from receipt of SPSIC. The last ship-out date from exporting country should be one month before the closed fishing season to prevent hoarding.

From the Customs clearing house, the importer should directly unload the imported frozen/chilled fish at its BFAR-registered cold storage facility and trade the imported products at the PFDA fish ports or PFDA-designated trading areas.

Importers should allow BFAR inspectors, quarantine officers, and law enforcers to inspect and monitor the imported fish stored in the BFAR-registered storage facility, and provide data for the performance evaluation of said CNI.

The guidelines also state that importers should sell the imported fish at P88 per kilogram wholesale, based on 2020 CNI fish auction conducted by BFAR, or lower as a result of the cost unbundling for imported small pelagic fishes.

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