Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Emmanuel Piñol on Tuesday took notice of the exorbitant fish prices in the province which have long plagued Boholanos and asked for one month to address the issue.
According to Piñol, he will redirect fish supply from other provinces to Bohol and even import from outside the country to meet demand and eventually lower prices through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).
“Give me one month. I will flood the market of Bohol with fish,” said Piñol during the launching of the Sandugo Agri-Fair 2018 at the Island City Mall in Tagbilaran City.
He noted that the measure was intended to be a short-term solution to the longstanding problem.
“Natinga ko sa Bohol na gipalibutan og dagat, perteng mahala ang isda diri. Unsa man tawon ni. Mao ng gi-meetingan namo na sa DA ug sa BFAR, and we will have remedial measures,” Piñol said.
The DA secretary however did not elaborate on a long-term plan to address the issue.
Piñol said that he has started to coordinate with the BFAR in implementing his plan to focus fish supply not just in Bohol, but in other localities which have been identified to have expensive fish.
“I told them ‘I don’t care if we import fish, but the Filipino consumer should never be made to suffer from the almost un-affordable prices of fish’,” he added.
Piñol noted that “there is nothing wrong” with importing fish, saying that it has been done by the country during the closed fishing season.
“We can always import during our closed fishing season. We have to understand that we have that season na gibawal ang pagpangisda. So anang panahuna, magpaabot g’yud mi og isda,” he said.
Last year, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan launched a series of inquiries into the reported exorbitant fish prices in the province.
Various resource persons including fishing industry stakeholders joined the probe and pinpointed the various “layers” of middlemen as cause behind the significant mark-ups in fish prices.
Meanwhile, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) 7 director Aster Caberte ascribed the high prices to inadequate fish supply in the province.
According to Caberte, fishes gathered in Bohol were also mostly supplied in Cebu due to numerous buyers who purchased in bulk which made it easier for fishermen to sell all their products.
She also pinpointed growing “disposable income” of Boholanos from overseas Filipino workers which made it possible for expensive fish in the province’s wet markets to still be bought.
CORRECTION: This article has been amended on July 23, 2018. This post originally quoted Department of Agriculture Sec. Emmanuel Piñol as saying “I don’t care if we kill more fish.” He said “I don’t care if we import fish.”