THE aquaculture industry said easing the import ban on processed animal proteins (PAP), a key ingredient in fish feed, will help the Philippines achieve food security.

In a statement on Monday, food advocacy group Tugon Kabuhayan said the industry, represented by 270 fishpond operators, non-government organizations, feed manufacturers, commercial fishing companies, fisherfolk, and regulators, wrote to President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. welcoming the resumption of PAP imports, which they said will help improve food production.

PAP imports had been suspended as a precautionary measure because of fears animals affected by African Swine Fever (ASF) could find their way into the supply chain for fish feed.

“This decision will grant Filipinos an inexpensive and ample fish supply and provide the population with their daily allowance of required protein,” Tugon Kabuhayan said.

Tugon Kabuhayan said aquaculture feed mills obtain their PAP from European suppliers that only use Category 3 materials, which are parts of animals from accredited slaughterhouses and were determined to be safe for human consumption.

“The safety of PAP is based on science. The World Organisation for Animal Health Terrestrial Animal Health Code Article 15.1.23 stipulates that the ASF virus is inactivated if the meat is heated at 70°C for 30 minutes. Even assuming that ASF is present, the process used for rendering PAP is more than enough to kill or inactivate any virus or pathogen,” Tugon Kabuhayan said.

“Countries like the US, Canada, and the members of the European Union continue to import PAP even from ASF-affected countries. The shipment period of at least 45 days from Italy is more than enough time for any such contamination to be inactivated,” it added.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) in January issued a temporary ban on imported pork products from Italy due to an ASF outbreak. Italy accounts for around 70% of the Philippines’ annual imports of 150,000 metric tons of PAP.

In August, the DA issued Memorandum Order No. 59 that approved PAP imports even from ASF-affected countries for sole use in fish feed production following lobbying from the industry.

Recently, the Bureau of Animal Industry issued guidelines governing the import of PAP, requiring suppliers to provide a veterinary certificate from the country of origin.

The organizations that signed the letter to the President include the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, National Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council, Philippine Association of Fish Producers, Inc., Alliance of Philippine Fishing Federations, Inc., Malalag Bay Fishcage Operators, Taal Lake Aquaculture Alliance, Inc., and Inter-Island Deep Sea Fishing Association, Inc. 

Other signatories were Feedmix Specialist, Inc. II, Dobe Export International, Oversea Feeds Corp., CDT Farm, Finfish Hatcheries, Inc., Frabelle Group, and various fishpond and fish cage owners and operators from Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave