Agriculture Secretary William Dar has approved the issuance of a Certificate of Necessity to Import (CNI) of 60,000 metric tons (MT) of fish to augment current local fish production in anticipation of the closed fishing season.


He made the decision as recommended by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), in coordination with the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority (PFDA), and in consultation with the National Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (NFARMC), and fishing industry stakeholders.

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

“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 in a statement.

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

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

Last week, food security advocacy group Tugon Kabuhayan is worried that the government’s planned fish importation during the second half of the year is ill-timed and may be detrimental to local fishermen.

To be specific, Tugon Kabuhayan convener and former Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) National Director Asis Perez said the government must instead consider aquaculture produce as a viable alternative during the anticipated lower fish supply in wet markets during the coming closed fishing season.

Perez was particularly reacting to reports that the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) recommended a high volume of fish importation during the scheduled six-month closed fishing season from October 1, 2021 to March 1, 2022.

NEDA’s recommendation for fish importation is part of the government’s overall efforts to control a possible increase in food prices in the country amid stricter COVID-19 lockdown measures.

For the fourth quarter of this year until the first quarter of 2022, NEDA recommended the importation of up to 200,000 MT of fish.

Under Fisheries Administrative Order No. 259, Series of 2018, Section 4, the DA Secretary, upon the recommendation of the BFAR, in coordination with the PFDA, and in consultation with the NFARMC and fishing industry stakeholders, shall 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.

Meanwhile, importers should sell the imported fish at P88 per kilogram (kg) wholesale, based on 2020 CNI fish auction conducted by BFAR, or lower as a result of the cost unbundling for imported small pelagic fishes.

Source: Manila Bulletin (