THE Department of Agriculture (DA) has allowed the entry of up to 17,000 metric tons (MT) of round scad, commonly known as galunggong, which will reach markets ahead of the closed fishing season when supply of the fish is expected to dwindle.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol signed the Certificate of Necessity enabling the import of round scad on Wednesday. The timing of the permit will allow imports to arrive by Sept. 1.
On Friday, the DA and the fisheries industry agreed to set a tariff rate of 5% for such imports.
“In order to ensure national food security taking into consideration public welfare and safety… the importation of round scad up to a maximum of 17,000 MT is hereby certified as necessary to be imported by accredited fish importers,” according to the certification.
“The imported round scad under this certificate of necessity shall be unloaded only in Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources-accredited cold storage facilities and shall be sold wholesale in Navotas Fishport.”
The DA also amended an old Fisheries Administrative Order by allowing fishermen’s groups and sellers, alongside food processors, to import round scad.
Round scad, a staple protein for low-income families and therefore politically sensitive, is so far the only fish allowed for import to help shore up domestic supply.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) round scad output dropped 9.56% year-on-year in the first six months in 2018. More broadly, fisheries output fell 2.14% during the same period amid high fuel costs and unfavorable weather conditions.
Prices of round scad correspondingly rose 11.66% in the first six months.
The closed fishing season starts in about two months.
Mr. Piñol told reporters on Tuesday that the DA will be imposing a different suggested retail price (SRP) on imported round scad, which is frozen, as against domestically-caught, fresh, round scad.
Round scad was one of the eight non-processed agricultural commodities placed under an SRP scheme by the DA in June. — Anna Gabriela A. Mogato