DA assures stable fish supply in NCR Plus amid pandemic

DA assures stable fish supply in NCR Plus amid pandemic

MANILA – The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Tuesday assured consumers that fish supply and prices have stabilized, particularly in the National Capital Region (NCR) and adjoining provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite and Laguna, collectively known as “NCR Plus”.

“This favorable condition was due to the peak season in the country’s major fishing grounds, as well as from the DA’s efforts to ensure food security amid the pandemic,” DA Secretary William Dar said.

During the second week of the month or from April 8 to 14, the total volume of marine fish catch unloaded at the Navotas Fish Port Complex amounted to 3,760 metric tons (MT), some 200 MT more than the previous week, he said.

Quoting reports from the DA’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and Philippine Fisheries Development Authority (PFDA), he said the unloadings consisted mainly of galunggong (round scad), totaling 2,280 MT, and the rest was a combination of turay, tulingan, tunsoy, tamban, pusit (squid), matambaka, gulyasan, dalagang bukid (yellowtail fusilier), and shrimps.

These were caught from the country’s major fishing grounds — waters off eastern and northern Palawan, Zamboanga Peninsula, and the Visayan Sea.

Supply of bangus (milkfish) and tilapia was also abundant, coming from fish pens and fishponds in Bulacan, Pangasinan, Taal Lake in Batangas, and Laguna de Bay.

As a result, Dar said prevailing retail prices of the most in-demand fishery commodities remained stable in most public markets in the NCR Plus.

In 10 retail markets and one wholesale market in the NCR, prices of fresh galunggong ranged from PHP180 to PHP240 per kilogram (kg), while prices of tilapia and bangus were sustained at PHP120 to PHP130/kg., and PHP180/kg., respectively.

These were an improvement compared to prices during the latter part of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021, when prices of galunggong fetched as high as PHP300/kg., bangus at PHP220/kg. and tilapia, at PHP160/kg.

“In the months ahead, we will continue to make fishery products and food, in general, accessible and affordable to all consumers, particularly in the NCR Plus and in other urban communities, where the threat of hunger looms,” the DA chief said.

Meanwhile, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Region 3 Director Wilfredo Cruz, in a virtual briefing on Monday, said the government has moved to study how to improve the genetic material of local bangus production.

Cruz said the initiative will involve a multi-sectoral research project that will be led by the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (NFRDI), the private sector, and the academe.

He said the result of the research will then be the basis of the government to draft a proposal for a long-term national program on this.

“Within the year, we are positive about being able to craft a proposal and have it approved,” he added. (PR)