By Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson, Reporter

THE fisheries industry has proposed that the government expand tenure for public land used in aquaculture, and called for limits on fish imports that compete with domestic products.

“I think the government should further support the increase of production of the fisheries sector by enacting support policies that will encourage the private sector to produce more. There should be a more secure tenure for cage operators, not the annual permits that are currently being given,” Asis G. Perez, co-convenor of the food advocacy group Tugon Kabuhayan, said in a text message.

“Priority should be given to cage operators in lease of government land for use as nurseries for fish which will be stocked in the cages,” he added.

Mr. Perez said that the government should also avoid unnecessary imports of fisheries products to ensure the aquaculture industry is sufficiently confident in investing in expansion.

“The government should facilitate and not unnecessarily prevent the entry of equipment and feed ingredients needed to produce finished products,” he added.

Pangingisda Natin Gawing Tama Network Representative Dennis F. Calvan said that to address the rising prices of fish, the government should provide support to increase the output of the domestic fishery and aquaculture industry. He proposed government purchases from the industry at reasonable prices for eventual sale to the market.

“The DA should continue its fuel support in order to help municipal fisherfolk continue their fishing activities,” he added in a Viber message.

In July, headline inflation rose 6.4% year on year with prices of food and beverages accelerating by 6.9% month on month. Price growth in fish and other seafood was 9.2%, against 6.7% the previous month.

“The bulk of our aquaculture commodities consist of bangus (milkfish) and tilapia. The combined volume of these two primary commodities is roughly between 85 to 90% of our total production. Prices of these two main items are very stable and reasonable compared with other fish items,” Mr. Perez said.

“If prices of various commodities continue to increase, we can rely on these two commodities to provide the volume and stable prices,” he added.

The DA has said it is working to increase and stabilize the production of food and bring down prices. It also recently launched the Comprehensive National Fisheries Industry Development Plan, a five-year plan to expand fisheries output.

Between 2021 and 2025, the DA targets a 10% reduction in post-harvest losses and an 80% compliance rate with hygiene and sanitation standards for all fish processing establishments.

It also set growth targets by the end of the five-year period as follows: mangrove crab production 500%, shellfish 250%, bangus 6%, municipal fishing 5%, and commercial fishing 4%.