A market official in Cebu City has confirmed that fishing boats from Bohol had been delivering their products to the Pasil Fish Port amid speculations that the high cost of fresh seafood in the province has been partly caused by supply shortage.
Cebu City Market Operations Division chief Irvin Icabales on Tuesday said that around 200 fishing boats from Bohol took turns in delivering around “20 to 30” foam boxes of fish to Pasil before the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in early 2020.
Each box contained about 30 kilos of fish, he added.
“Dili pareha, naay mga adlaw na dili ngana kadaghan pero mura’g mao nay average,” said Icabales.
Previously, various officials including former Provincial Board (PB) member Tomas Abapo and former Department of Trade and Industry 7 director Aster Caberte asserted that the sale of Bohol fish products in Cebu City created a supply shortage, driving up prices in the province.
There had been a series of inquiries by the PB on the reported expensive fish in the past few years but the issue has apparently persisted.
According to Icabeles, Cebu fish vendors deal with Bohol fishermen in cash and buy their products at higher prices.
“Paspas ang konsumo diri sa Cebu, imagine sa atong bagsakan area karon, sa wholesale nato na area, naa tay more or less, average mga 200 to 300 tons per day. Ang mo konsumo ana dili ra ang Cebu City kundili neighboring cities ari magkuha sa Pasil,” he said.
Icabales noted that fish sellers from Bohol also buy other agricultural products such as vegetables in Cebu, which he said are cheaper, and take these back to Bohol on their return trip.
He believes that this is also one of the factors driving Bohol fishermen or middlemen to choose to travel all the way to Cebu City and sell their fish products there.
“Gikan magbagsak sila sa ilang isda, magkarga pud na sila og mga goods sama sa mga utanon from Cebu dad-on nila back to Bohol, kay medyo barato ang presyo diri sa mga utanon ug prutas,” he said.
Icabeles however noted that fish sellers from Bohol temporarily stopped sending supplies to Pasil when travel restrictions were implemented due to the pandemic.
The Pasil Fish Port also started a renovation project which affected the docking area for fishing boats from Bohol.
“Plano nato na padungguon na balik pero sad to say na wala pa na turn over ang maong building,” said Icabales.
Expensive fish in markets in Bohol is a perennial problem which has drawn constant complaints from the public for more than half a decade.
Several officials vowed to address the issue including Governor Arthur Yap who had earlier noted that solving the province’s fish woes was on his priority list when he assumed office in 2019.
Former Agriculture secretary Manny Piñol also promised to “flood” the province with fish by launching the Bohol Fish Market and the TienDA in Tagbilaran City but the program failed to gain ground until he eventually stepped down from his post in 2019 and the initiative was abandoned. (A. Doydora)