As he unveiled a long-term plan aimed at locally increasing fish production in the province, Governor Arthur Yap sees Boholanos comfortably purchasing abundant fish products well within their means before his first term ends.
“I want to make sure that every Bol-anon family can have access to one to two kilos of fishery products every week,” said Yap during the first “Kita ug ang Gobernador” press briefing under his administration.
According to Yap, the plan is focused on locally growing the primary fish products such as bangus and tilapia in Bohol by acquiring “planting material” for the fish varieties.
“You cannot produce in large quantity if you don’t have the planting material. Mao na that’s what we have to give attention to this afternoon,” said Yap as he noted that he has been regularly meeting agriculture experts since he officially took over as governor on Sunday.
However, Yap, who was the Agriculture Secretary during the Arroyo administration, noted that it would take “two to three years” to fully develop the province’s fisheries.
He said that the government will still have to thresh out issues such as funding, the location of the fisheries, acquisition of feeds and sourcing of planting material.
Meanwhile, Yap tapped the private sector to help increase fish supply in the province as temporary means to alleviate the province’s longstanding problem on exorbitant fish prices.
He said that he enlisted the aid of Frabelle Fishing Corporation and another firm to ship two million kilos of fish per month starting October.
“These two groups already have fleets of fishing ships in the Pacific. I am asking them to at least assist us and deliver to us 2 million kilos from October, November, December, January. Two million kilos per month to stabilize the situation,” he said.
He also assured that the fish shipment will not be purchased in bulk by big-time retailers which would ultimately lead to the sale of still expensive products at the markets.
“When those fishery products come in, we have to make sure that the savings are not confiscated by the retailers and traders because that is surely what will happen. In my experience, I will bring in fishery products in to the Greater Manila Area, pag-abot sa mga dakong merkado, the price is the same because the traders and retailers are confiscating the gain,” Yap said. “Mangita ta og pamaagi that when it arrives, those who are most affected should be the ones given the chance to sell it.”
According to Yap, they will tightly monitor markets to ensure that low fish prices are maintained.
“Our objective is not to crash the prices for the farmer, our objective is not to crash the price for the retailer, we want the trader to also bring something home for Christmas but they cannot do that at the expense of the Boholano public,” he said.
Bohol, an island province, has long grappled with exorbitant fish prices, an issue which has prompted the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to launch inquiries and even former Department of Agriculture secretary Emmanuel Piñol to intervene, promising to “flood Bohol with fish.”
Both efforts proved to be futile.