To further sustain the sustainability of the country’s marine product supply, Senator Cynthia A. Villar is pushing for the establishment of more legislated fish hatcheries.
The senator, chairperson of Senate committee on Agriculture, Food and Agrarian Reform, on Monday led the hearing on 11 House Bills and one Senate Bill which seeks to build additional fish hatcheries.
In 2020, the total production volume of fishing in the Philippines amounted to approximately 4.4 million metric tons. In the same period, the overall production value of fishing in the country reached approximately 273.5 billion Philippine pesos.
The fishing industry contributes 1.2 percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP) at current prices which is about P228 billion.
The fishing industry performance is measured by the contribution of its three sectors. In 2019, the aquaculture sector posted the highest contribution with 52.8% with 2.3 MMT, followed by the Municipal sector with 25% or 1.1 MMT and the Commercial sector with .978 MMT or 22.2 %.
The following fish hatcheries, she said, will be built:
1. HB 7691 “AN ACT ESTABLISHING A MULTI-SPECIES MARINE HATCHERY IN THE MUNICIPALITY OF BASILISA, PROVINCE OF DINAGAT ISLANDS, AND APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFOR”
2. HB 9933 “AN ACT ESTABLISHING A MULTI-SPECIES MARINE HATCHERY IN THE CITY OF CALBAYOG, PROVINCE OF SAMAR, AND APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFOR”
3. HB 9934 “AN ACT ESTABLISHING A MANGROVE CRAB HATCHERY IN BARANGAY GEARTAG, MUNICIPALITY OF SAN JOSE, PROVINCE OF NORTHERN SAMAR, AND APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFOR”
4. HB 9935 “AN ACT ESTABLISHING A MULTI-SPECIES MARINE HATCHERY IN THE MUNICIPALITY OF BASEY, PROVINCE OF SAMAR, AND APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFOR”
5. HB 9936 “AN ACT ESTABLISHING A MULTI-SPECIES MARINE HATCHERY IN THE MUNICIPALITY OF BASEY, PROVINCE OF SAMAR, AND APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFOR”
(SB No. 2226 “AN ACT ESTABLISHING A MULTI-SPECIES MARINE HATCHERY IN THE MUNICIPALITY OF BASEY, PROVINCE OF SAMAR, AND APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFOR” (same as HB9936)
6. HB 9937 “AN ACT ESTABLISHING INLAND FRESHWATER FISH HATCHERIES IN THE MUNICIPALITIES OF CARMEN AND BRAULIO E. DUJALI, PROVINCE OF DAVAO DEL NORTE, AND APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFOR”
7. HB 9938 “AN ACT ESTABLISHING A FRESHWATER FISH HATCHERY IN THE MUNICIPALITY OF BOMBON, PROVINCE OF CAMARINES SUR, AND APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFOR”
8. HB 9939 “AN ACT ESTABLISHING A MULTI-SPECIES MARINE HATCHERY IN THE MUNICIPALITY OF TIBIAO, PROVINCE OF ANTIQUE AND APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFOR”)
9. HB 9940 “AN ACT ESTABLISHING A CENTRAL MULTI-SPECIES MARINE HATCHERY IN THE MUNICIPALITY OF SAN JOSE, PROVINCE OF OCCIDENTAL MINDORO, AND APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFOR”
10. HB 9941 “AN ACT ESTABLISHING A TECHNOLOGY VERIFICATION STATION WITH TILAPIA AND FRESHWATER PRAWN HATCHERIES IN THE MUNICIPALITY OF STO. DOMINGO, PROVINCE OF NUEVA ECIJA, AND APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFOR”
11. HB 9942 “AN ACT ESTABLISHING MULTI-SPECIES MARINE HATCHERY IN BARANGAY BINUKAWAN, MUNICIPALITY OF BAGAC, PROVINCE OF BATAAN, AND APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFOR”
Villar, has sponsored three more bills on hatcheries which will be built in Libon, Albay; in the City Environmental Estate of Barangay Santa Lucia, in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan; and in Batad, Iloilo which are now on its second reading at the Senate floor. Villar emphasized that hatcheries provide the seed for aquaculture and where some fish and shellfish are spawned, hatched and cared for. Aquaculture contributes significantly to the country’s food security, employment and foreign exchange earnings. Aquaculture is growing much faster than capture fisheries. According to the reports the volume of fry produced by the Philippines milkfish or bangus broodstock continues to lag behind demand, resulting in importation of as much as 70 percent of the national requirement. In 2020, fisheries production volume decreased by -0.3%, according to preliminary statistics released by the PSA.
“Fish is the country’s second staple food next to rice. On the average, every Filipino consumes daily 98.6 grams of fish and fish products. The average Filipinos derive 22.5 percent of their annual food intake from fish products, a quarter of their daily diet,”. said Villar. Overfishing, illegal fishing and habitat destruction combined with increased demand for fish and population growth continue to drive fisheries production downwards. Villar further explained the bills on fish hatcheries will help solve overfishing and dwindling fish catch in our seas. Strengthening our fishing industry through the establishment of multi-specie marine hatcheries nationwide can provide additional income opportunities to fisherfolks by providing sustainable fish source which will promote for a healthy and affordable food for the rest of the population. A multi specie hatchery facility will further strengthen aquaculture development and further enhance seafood production to benefit local fisherfolks and coastal communities. A hatchery can be a research station for fish-breeding, or grow out and spawning for various aquatic resources such as groupers, prawns, lobsters, crab, oysters, and other high-value marine species depending on the results of the feasibility study of the area.
Also, during the hearing, she talked about the importation of galunggong issue which is again in the news since the Department of Agriculture has approved the importation of 60,000 metric tons of small pelagic fishes galunggong and mackerel allegedly to cover part of an expected shortage in the local supply in the first quarter of 2022, despite the National Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (NFARMC) negative recommendation. The DA-BFAR cited closed season in three fishing grounds – Northern Palawan (November to January), Zamboanga Peninsula (December to March) and the Visayan Sea (November to January) and the impact of Typhoon Odette that came in mid-December last year and left the fisheries sector with a P3.97 billion damages or 29.8% of the total agriculture damage placed at P13.3billion.
The new Certificate of Necessity to Import (CNI) comes after a previous one issued August 2021 also for 60,000 MT of roundscad (galunggong), mackerel and bonito as recommended by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) that was due to arrive by end of 2021, has as of January 12, 2022, only registered 36,962 metric tons arrivals and only 14,349 metric tons or 39 percent disposed, leaving 26,413 still at the cold storages. It is also in the news that the validity of the import permits of the non-arrivals have been extended until end of 2022.
The Congressmen authors of the House Bills together with the Mayors assured the Sen. Villar that they have complied with the initial requirement for the establishment of the 11 hatcheries such as the feasibility study and a tenurial instrument of the site for it will be established. On his part, BFAR Director Eduardo Gongona promised the completion of the 37 legislated hatcheries until end of 2022 and reported that they have provided funds for their construction. He also said a hatchery would have only cost the government P20 million each to construct depending of the stock to be grown in the hatchery. Dan Baliao, the current Chief of the Aquaculture Department (AQD) of the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC) in Iloilo said that the country needs to put up more of these facilities to meet the needs of country for the development of aquatic food sources for the country. Villar emphasized that, after three years from the establishment, the hatchery facility shall be turned over to the local government unit for them to manage for the benefit of their constituents and nearby areas. She moved for the approval of the establishment of the hatcheries at the end of the public hearing.