Filipino fishers protest government’s plan to import round scad

Published on
December 17, 2019

Filipino fishers from the National Federation of Small Fisherfolk Organizations and others have protested the Philippines Agriculture Department’s decision to import round scad, claiming this will hurt the livelihood of small fishers and do little to stabilize market prices, The Philippine Star reported last week.

Members of Pamalakaya, a fishermen’s cooperative, marched to the department’s headquarters on 9 December, calling on the public to patronize local fish vendors and reject imported products.

“Our call to cancel the importation order is directed not only to the [Agriculture Department] and the Philippines’ Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, but to every concerned government official,” Pamalakaya’s national chairperson, Fernando Hicap, said.

The protests took place after Agriculture Secretary William Dar earlier this month gave the green light to proceed with a plan to import 45,000 metric tons (MT) of small pelagic fish, including round scad. The decision was made as prices of round scad have risen recently amid low supply.

The volume of round scad production in the Philippines fell sharply in the last year to 170,000 MT last year, down from 300,000 MT in 2008, according to data from the Philippine Statistics Authority.

Dubbed the poor people’s fish, the average retail price of round scad rose to more than PHP 140 (USD 2.76, EUR 2.48) per kilogram this year, up from PHP 80 (USD 1.58, 1.42) per kilogram in 2008.

Last year, the Philippines imported 170,000 MT of round scad from Vietnam, Taiwan, and China beteween September 2018 to April 2019 to preempt an increase in prices and boost local supplies. The move was met with opposition from lawmakers last year. Representative Lito Atienza said in August 2018 that the imports do not address the core problem of falling production and that the government should improve its effort to increase domestic production. Senator Cythia Villar last year also urged the government to reconsider its import policy, saying it was likely to adversely affect the livelihood of small fishers and farmers.

Photo courtesy of Tony Magdaraog/Shutterstock

Contributing Editor reporting from Hanoi, Vietnam

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