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Fish supply enough for Holy Week despite Oriental Mindoro oil spill —BFAR

The country has an adequate supply of fish amid the expected increase in demand for the upcoming Holy Week, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said.

In a statement, BFAR spokesperson Nazario Briguera said they are confident of the sufficient production as fishing grounds in the country have reopened after its periodic closure that allowed fish species to reproduce.

“Dahil nasa peak season tayo ngayon ng fishing activity, we expect na kaya nating punan ‘yung supply kahit tumaas ang demand sa Mahal na Araw,” he said.

(Since we are on peak season of fishing activity, we expect to meet the high demand for fish during the Holy Week).

He, however, acknowledged several factors that may affect local fish production, including the oil spill from the sunken motor tanker in Oriental Mindoro that has also reached nearby provinces.

Due to this, Briguera said there could be lower fish output in the affected areas.

“Pero hindi namin nakikita na magkakaroon ng pangmalawakang kakulangan sa presyo ng isda because of the oil spill,” he said.

(We do not see a shortage of fish on a national scale because of the oil spill)

In Oriental Mindoro, fishing in areas where there’s an oil spill has been prohibited due to possible water toxification.

Due to this, almost half of the residents in the concerned towns were affected as fishing was their only source of livelihood, according to Oriental Mindoro Governor Humerlito Dolor.

Briguera said expensive fuel costs and post-harvest losses remain a challenge in bolstering the fishing industry.

“Alam natin na nagfa-fluctuate ang presyo ng petrolyo. Minsan tumataas ito at nagiging [dahilan] kung bakit nababawasan ang fishing activities. Kaya ang DA-BFAR ay patuloy na nagsusulong ng subsidy program at payao technology lalo na sa small-scale fisherfolk,” he said.

(We know that oil prices fluctuate. Sometimes, it increases and affects fishing activities. That’s why the DA-BFAR is implementing a subsidy program and utilizing the payao technology for small-scale fisherfolk.)

Additionally, Briguera said BFAR is initiating post-harvest interventions to address fish spoilage.

According to the Bureau, the current fish spoilage is between 25-40% due to the shortage in post-harvest equipment like blast freezer, ice making machines, cold storage warehouses, and fish landing sites.

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. on Tuesday said the government will construct 11 more cold storage facilities on top of those already being constructed at various ports in the cities of General Santos and Cagayan de Oro, in a bid to address the spoilage of the fishermen’s catch.

He said he expects the cold storage facilities to be operational by the end of 2023.

Marcos also directed the prioritization of fish ports construction in 11 coastal provinces to capacitate and empower fisherfolks towards resiliency and decrease post-harvest losses. —Giselle Ombay/KBK, GMA Integrated News