THE AQUACULTURE industry estimates that the supply of fish will be adequate despite disruptions caused by typhoons Jolina (international name: Conson) and Kiko (Chanthu).

Mario G. Balazon, Taal Lake Aquaculture Alliance, Inc. director, said Monday in a virtual briefing organized by food security advocacy group Tugon Kabuhayan that the two recent typhoons damaged more than 1,000 fish cages. 

However, Mr. Balazon said the escaped fish will add to the supply.  

“We are now in the process of getting the fish back to their cages. Those that can’t be recaptured will surely be caught by other fishermen and consumed by nearby communities,” Mr. Balazon said.

Mr. Balazon estimated that it will take one to two months before tilapia supply in Taal Lake can recover from the impact of the typhoons.

“The daily harvest before the typhoons was 200 metric tons (MT) consisting of milkfish (bangus) and tilapia. In terms of percentage, 10% of the daily harvest is bangus, while the rest is tilapia,” Mr. Balazon said.

“After the typhoons, 80% of the production is still here in Taal,” Mr. Balazon said.

Jon G. Juico, Philippine Tilapia Stakeholders Association president, said tilapia farmers in Pampanga can readily supply consumers.  

Mr. Juico said however that demand has dropped and farmgate prices have fallen due to the pandemic.

He said the current farmgate price of tilapia is P70 per kilogram against a production cost of P60 to P65 per kilogram. An “ideal” farmgate price, he said, would be P80 to P85 per kilogram, to allow aquaculturists to recover their costs and earn a return.

“Before the pandemic, we have two cycles of harvest a year. Unfortunately, we experienced a dramatic drop in demand for tilapia during the pandemic which forced us to limit our harvest to one cycle a year,” Mr. Juico said.

“We are not affected by typhoons since we have improved the infrastructure of our fishponds. No matter the weather, production is continuous,” he added.  

“The tilapia in our ponds are already oversized because of the long wait for stronger demand. We’re more than ready and eager to answer government’s call for more fish supply,” Mr. Juico said.

Tugon Kabuhayan urged consumers to patronize domestically-produced fish after the Department of Agriculture (DA) approved the issuance of certificates of necessity to import for 60,000 MT of fish to compensate for the closed season in various fisheries.

Bangus and tilapia are much more affordable than round scad (galunggong). Retail prices of these aquaculture species are more stable as tilapia currently retails in our wet markets at P120 and bangus at P160 while galunggong sells at P240,” the group said.

“The DA’s decision to allow 60,000 MT of fish imports is excessive. There is sufficient local production to cover projected supply shortfalls during the forthcoming closed fishing season,” it added. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave