The Provincial Agriculture Office (PAO) has urged fishing operators in Bohol to form cooperatives in an effort to lower fish costs in the province following the second round of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan’s (SP) committee-level probe into reported high prices of aquamarine products.
According to Assistant Provincial Agriculturist Larry Pamugas, his office has already arranged a meeting with Elmer Chavez, owner of Elzon Fising Company, one of the biggest local commercial fishers, to discuss the proposed formation of cooperatives.
The said proposal was raised among other measures considered to lower fish prices in the province during the inquiry of the SP’s committee on agriculture on Wednesday which was led by panel chair Board Member Abeleon Damalerio.
Pamugas, during the probe, pointed out a cooperative of fishermen in the province, the Bohol Seaweeds Multipurpose Cooperative, which, he said, has shown relative success even while selling their products at lower costs.
The Talibon-based Bohol Seaweeds Multipurpose Cooperative has been transporting their fish and other aquamarine products to Dauis and sell these near the town’s public tennis court, said Pamugas.
According to Chavez, he is amenable to the proposed formation of cooperatives among fishing associations in Bohol while noting that it would help put an end to issues on fish sellers not handing out the right amount of payments to him.
Cooperative Development Authority administrator Benjie Oliva, for his part, said that his office is ready to conduct a pre-registration seminar for those intending to form cooperatives.
Meanwhile, Pamugas also pointed out “interventions” made by the provincial government to help bring down fish costs through the PAO such as the establishment of small fish terminals in Tagbilaran City where cheaper fish are sold and by extending financial aid.
For its part, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) set up community fish landing centers that house administrative offices, drying areas and refrigeration systems, while these can also be used by fishermen as meeting place and an area for mending fishnets and repairing fishing boats, he said.
The BFAR has shelled out P24 million for the establishment of right fish landing Centers in various towns of the province including Inabanga, Tubigon, Calape, Clarin, Anda, Carlos P. Garcia, Baclayon and Talibon. (R. Tutas)