Consumers desperate for lower fish prices

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Consumers desperate for lower fish prices

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Desperate calls to lower the prices of fish finally drew a long-term and integrated solution now being undertaken by the technical working group (TWG) of the provincial government, funneling support from the national government agencies.

The ultimate solution boils down to cutting the production cost on the part of the fishermen and helping the traders deliver the stock to the fish terminals.

The effort, however, has been geared toward establishing a fair price for the fish stock instead of depriving the traders of the profit by bringing the prices too low for the industry to survive.

Larry Pamugas, officer-in-charge of the Provincial Agriculturist’s Office, explained the integrated approach being undertaken now by concerned government agencies in an exclusive interview with the Chronicle last night.

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Tomorrow, Gov. Edgar Chatto and BFAR-7 Regional Director Andres Bojos will sign the memorandum of agreement for the operation of the freezer vans by the Provincial Agriculturist’s Office.

The freezer vans will deliver the fish stock from the fishing communities or landing ports in coastal towns to the fish terminals or bagsakan centers in Tagbilaran City.

A task group from the Provincial Agriculturist’s Office will be trained to operate the freezer vans, in partnership with BFAR, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Consumer Watch Bohol Inc., and the vendors’ association.

The TWG also facilitates the ongoing training of people’s organizations on the basic management and handling of  the fish terminals and bookkeeping.

The freezers or chillers to be provided at the fish terminals will follow, according to Pamugas.

This is part of the “50-50 scheme” or a counter-parting scheme for the fisher folk’s capital between the provincial government and the local government unit of coastal towns.

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In the scheme, the provincial government and the concerned municipal government share for the capital to liberate the fisher folks from loan sharks and capitalists in their areas.

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The capital is for the rice and gasoline that fishermen need when they sail to catch fish.

On the other hand, the provincial government hands over batches of fish cages to qualified fishermen, especially those whose ponds had been damaged by Typhoon Yolanda in November 2013.

This is among the solutions recommended by the TWG tasked by the provincial government to find solutions to high prices of fish in Bohol.

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The provincial government, through the Provincial Agriculturist’s Office, distributes fish cages in partnership with BFAR and other partner agencies.

On Thursday last week, Gov. Edgar Chatto turned over fish cages to qualified beneficiaries in Candijay.

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Another batch of fish cages had been handed over on Friday to beneficiaries in barangay Manga, Tagbilaran City.

On Monday,  the fisher folk in Tubigon will have their turn to receive fish cages.

In fish cages, Pamugas said it would be easier to control the harvest as they are contained in an area, contrary to those caught from the open seas.

The provincial government also turned over 16-horsepower engines from BFAR to coastal municipalities, in support to the programs of the Coastal Law Enforcement Council (CLEC).

Relying on the open sea fishing brings unpredictable supply, a factor in having unstable prices.

This is considering that types of fish are migratory and seasonal, aside from the fact that they are hard to catch on full moon and cold weather, according to Pamugas.

OUTGROWING OPEN SEA FISHING

The TWG also pushed for inland fishery to stabilize the supply of fish in the market, a way to address the supply-and-demand factor.

Provincial Agriculturist’s Office and BFAR cultivate a hatchery in the Bilar campus of Bohol Island State University (BISU) as a source of Tilapia fingerlings.

The TWG calls on enterprising individuals to invest in inland fishery, citing the increasing market for Tilapia and Hito.

Another hatchery of Tilapia fingerlings is in barangay Calunasan, Clarin.

The Provincial Agriculturist’s Office provides training on growing Tilapia for individuals interested to venture into the business.

Pamugas also said they are inviting Boholanos who want to invest in mariculture as additional source of fish stock.

As of now, Bohol has mariculture parks in Candijay, Talibon, Calape, Mabini, and Maribojoc established since 2011.

BFAR earlier stated that the mariculture parks serve as venues for new hatcheries of fish that are in high demand for tourists and locals such as abalone, lapu-lapu, sea bass, snappers, groupers, pompano and kitong.

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Health conscious population continues to grow, choosing fish as option to pair with vegetables in avoidinga meat diet.

The TWG also campaigns against wastage of fish food to maximize the supply of fish.

This increases the demand of fish in the time of depleting resources and fishermen becoming fewer.

Like in the farming trend, majority of the fishermen’s children who finished college would want to bail out their parents from the hard living—like that of fishing.

On this, the TWG appeals for more investors in the fishing industry to sustain enough supply to match the growing demand of fish as a way to stabilize the prices.

On the other hand, the TWG continues monitoring the prices of fish in the towns every other day, while also encouraging vendors to put price tags.

Pamugas said monitoring teams noticed stalls in the towns have no price tags on fish and it is only in Tagbilaran City that they see the price tags.

This way, it has been observed that the vendors tend to give higher prices to tourists.

The monitoring team of the Provincial Agriculturist’s Office works with the DTI and the Department of Agriculture in maintaining the database to note on the price trends and as reference for studies.

The database shows that there had been no movement in the prices of fish in the last five years, according to Pamugas.

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