THE DEPARTMENT of Finance (DoF) called on the government to ensure stable fish supplies, noting that fish products have played a significant role in the elevated inflation levels of the past few months.
“To ensure the sufficient supply of fish in the country, advancement of technology to introduce innovative ways of aquafarming is important as aquaculture produces more than half of the total fish supply in the economy,” the Finance department said in an economic bulletin.
“A comprehensive program to ensure sustainability of seafaring needs to be put in place. This should include, among others, appropriate environmental management,” it added.
The DoF noted that inflation in fish prices hit 12% in the first quarter of 2018 from only 5% in the same period in 2017.
In June, inflation in fish prices was 11.2%, and contributed 0.6 percentage points to the 5.2% headline that month.
Food items are a major component in a developing country’s inflation indices. The Philippines has also seen elevated prices for rice, vegetables, and fuel, among others.
Inflation averaged 4.3% in the first half, exceeding the central bank’s 2-4% target range. The government expects inflation to come in at 4.5% this year, and fall back within the 2-4% range next year.
“Gross value added of fishing to GDP (gross domestic product) continued to register negative growth, (with) 4% and 0.9% drops in 2016 and 2017 respectively. In the first quarter of 2018, gross value added of fishing further declined by 3.7%,” the DoF said.
“In 2011 the growth of fisheries production started to decline. In 2017, among the three subsectors of fisheries, only aquaculture has registered positive growth (1.7%),” it noted.
It also noted that Republic Act No. 10654, or the amended Fisheries Code is not viewed as a major contributor to the decline in fish production.
“The 15-kilometer fishing restriction for large commercial fishing vessels is already in the 1998 law and remained in the 2015 law. Climate change may be the biggest factor in the (declining) production of fisheries,” the DoF said.
It noted that in 2016, total fish production declined 6.31% to 4.32 million metric tons, due to the “severe drought” that year and in 2015.
In 2017, fish production declined by 1%.
“During El Niño episodes, water temperature rises thus inducing fish to move to colder, deeper waters. Also, rougher seas ensue as typhoons and monsoon rains intensify thus increasing the danger to fishing activities,” the DoF said. — Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan