Sen. Cynthia Villar is listing the creation of more fishing facilities as a legislative priority, saying marine hatcheries, fish ports, training and research facilities are needed to help address fish shortage and shore up food supply in the country.
“Building of more facilities to improve our fish farming capabilities is one of the long-term solutions we need in order to improve our productivity. Many of our traditional fishing grounds are getting overfished and we need to create breeding grounds and hatcheries to help arrest the dwindling fish stock,” Villar said.
Villar, chairperson of the Committee on Agriculture and Food, also noted the shortage in fish supply is manifested by the spike in the price of fish in the market, especially galunggong which has a suggested retail price of P140 per kilo but is being sold for P170 to P200 per kilo.
“Reports have it that over 70 percent of the world’s fish stocks are fully exploited or are already overfished. Overfishing is a major concern globally, with experts issuing warnings that if sustainable fishing is not practiced and oceans are not given time to recover, they could become ‘virtual deserts’ by 2050 or 32 years from now,” Villar said.
On Tuesday, Villar conducted a public hearing on the bills creating multi-species marine hatcheries in Zamboanga City, First District of Nueva Ecija and the municipalities of Minalabac, Pasacao, Libmanan and San Fernando in Camarines Sur.
Bills creating fishports in Minglanilla, Cebu and Saint Bernard, Southern Leyte were also discussed in the hearing, as well as the creation of fisheries research centers in Abulug, Cagayan; Balo-I, Lanao del Norte; and in Aklan Province.
“We want to solve this shortage not only because fish is an important part of the Filipino diet. We also want to take advantage of the ever-inceasing demand for high-value marine species in both local and export markets and to satisfy the world’s growing appetite for fish,” Villar said.
“With the creation of these hatcheries and more in the future, our people are now assured of a source of food. Through these facilities, we can provide the opportunity to our fisherfolks to undergo training and improve present practices to improve productivity,” she added.
Villar cited the study of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization saying 20 years ago, 70% of our fish production came from the ocean and 30% from aquaculture. At present, fish production is 50% wild catch and 50% aquaculture.
The Nacionalista Party senator also noted that the Philippines, being the sixth biggest fish producer in the world, has an aquaculture production of over US$1.58 billion. The fisheries sector also provides direct and indirect employment to over one million people, or about 12 percent of the agriculture sector of the labor force.