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BFAR sees no ‘national scale’ fish shortage amid Mindoro oil spill

The oil spill in Oriental Mindoro, which already reached the provinces of Palawan and Antique, will not cause a nationwide shortage of fish, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources said on Friday.

However, BFAR spokesperson Nazario Briguera added there could be lower fish output in Oriental Mindoro and nearby provinces following the continuous leakage of industrial oil from the sunken MT Princess Empress.

“Pero hindi namin nakikita na magkakaroon ng pangmalawakang kakulangan sa [supply] ng isda because of the oil spill (We do not see a shortage of fish supply on a national scale because of the oil spill),” Briguera said.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) collated by GMA News Research showed that the provinces of Oriental Mindoro, Palawan, and Antique accounted for 10.5% and 10.2% of total fisheries production in the Philippines in 2021 and 2022.

The three provinces have a combined production of 443,212.04 metric tons of fisheries - including fish, algae, crustaceans, and mollusks, among other aquatic flora and fauna - in 2022, lower by 0.2% compared to 444,304.62 metric tons produced in 2021.

GMA News Research data also showed that Palawan was the fourth province with the highest volume of round scad or galunggong produced in 2022 with 8,156.90 metric tons, accounting for 4.67% of the total 174,710.58 metric tons of galunggong production in the whole country.

Antique, meanwhile, ranked 10th in galunggong production with 1.8% or 3,144.54 metric tons produced. Oriental Mindoro placed 31st with 999.23 metric tons of galunggong produced or 0.57% of total production.

In a phone interview, Briguera told GMA News Online that BFAR was, for now, focusing on livelihood interventions for the affected fisherfolk due to the oil spill, which already reached about 19,000 families.

He said the agency is also providing technical assistance to the affected local government units in terms of water sampling analysis and fish sampling analysis.

In a separate news release, BFAR said National Director Demonsthenes Escoto committed an initial P4 million for fisherfolk livelihood intervention.

Meanwhile, Briguera said that fish supplies were adequate for the Holy Week when demand for fish increased.

He said fishing grounds in the country had reopened after its periodic closure that allowed fish species to reproduce. — DVM, GMA Integrated News