THE FISHERIES sector should be alert to changing consumer preferences and pursue more value-adding activities to work around the potential weak links exposed by the pandemic, such as the breakdown in logistics arrangements caused by the lockdown, a government think tank said.

In a webinar conducted by the National Academy of Science and Technology Wednesday, Reynaldo V. Ebora, executive director of the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD), said the industry’s recovery prospects will depend on its adaptability to the new market landscape after the lockdown.

These include tapping new markets and developing value-added products to make up for the loss of customers like the restaurant industry.

Other problems that were encountered by the industry were the locked-down work force and the dearth of storage or even basic supplies like ice to preserve surpluses.

Mr. Ebora cited data from the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) indicating that the Philippine economy lost about P1.1 trillion during the first 45 days of the lockdown.

“According to NEDA, the losses in the fisheries and agriculture sector were due to the low fish supply and high market price of fish products,” Mr. Ebora said.

Mr. Ebora said that PCAARRD plans to help upgrade the industry’s supply and value chains by enhancing the quality of on-site processing for fish surpluses, while also pushing for more cold storage in fishing communities to preserve the quality of the catch. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave