DAVAO CITY — Fisherfolk here are asking the Department of Agriculture (DA) to increase the tuna allocation for distribution at the city’s wet markets to 20 metric tons (MT) per day from the current 3.5 MT due to the large excess catch that needs to go into cold storage.

A worker (L) unloads tuna as a buyer checks the quality of the fish. — CRECENCIO I. CRUZ

“We are faced with the problem of not being able to distribute excess tuna supply to the local wet markets as we are limited to the 3.5 MT allocation per day,” said Argie Lumibao, United Davao Fishport Business Association President and the city’s Fisheries and Resource Management Council (FARMC) chairperson.

Mr. Lumibao said the industry is often forced to use cold storage for next-day distribution of product, which means extra costs.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources-Davao Region (BFAR-11) has confirmed the need to increase the tuna allocation of the city’s wet markets in view of the increasing population as well as leisure and business visitors.

“BFAR, in consultation with stakeholders and the FARMC, will support the increase of 3.5 MT to 20MT of non-exportable tuna and tuna-like fish species,” BFAR Davao Region Director Fatma M. Idris said.

Ms. Idris noted that the 3.5-MT quota is contained in the certification of the Necessity to Import Fresh/Chilled/Frozen Tuna-like Fish Species for distribution in Davao City wet markets that took effect on Nov. 17, 2003.

“BFAR acknowledges that Davao City has a growing population, an expanding horizon in business, and attraction to foreign and local tourists as it is where President Rodrigo R. Duterte hails from,” she said.

Councilor Conrado C. Baluran, vice-chair of the city council’s agriculture committee, also said that the city is being deprived of sufficient tuna supply due to the quota.

Lawyer Glen A. Pangapalad, general manager of the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority (PFDA), said he will brief Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol on the fishing sector’s request. PFDA is a government-owned and controlled corporation that manages regional fishports, including those in Navotas, Iloilo, Zamboanga, General Santos City, Davao City, Pangasinan and Sorsogon.

“We welcome the request of tuna vendors, especially because we have future plans to expand the (Davao City) port to accommodate more vessels,” he said, which would mean the facility would have the capacity to handle the offloading of 20 MT of tuna.

Mr. Pangapalad said the Davao fishport upgrade has been included in the list of priority infrastructure projects with an allocation of P500 million, but the project is still awaiting approval by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board. — Carmencita A. Carillo