Published by the Visayan Daily Star
Editor-in-Chief & President
Bureau Chief, Dumaguete
MAJA P. DELY
|CARLOS ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA
Despite a dismal first quarter performance, where the fisheries sub-sector plummeted by 5.2 percent, the Department of Agriculture is optimistic that it can still achieve a 94 percent fish sufficiency level and increase is further next year.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said challenges continue to hound the fisheries sector and more interventions need to be done to unlock its potential.
The Philippines is currently 89 percent fish sufficient. Of that, sixty percent of production comes from capture fishing while the remaining 40 percent is from aquaculture. Secretary Dar expects that figure to rise to 94 percent this year and with elevated measures and interventions that weren’t specified, he is hopeful we can achieve 96 percent by 2021.
As of 2019, an estimated 87 million Filipinos have a per capita consumption of 38.2 kilograms per year. The country produced 2.9 million metric tons of fish last year.
“We are upgrading and elevating our game to resuscitate aquaculture and capture fishing. Fisheries have been affected by the pandemic, distortion of the food supply chain have been terrible and to some extent even led to the spike of prices,” Dar said.
“We can do it as long as we believe that the power of science and technology can fuel the growth and development of the fishery sector with engagement of all stakeholders. This can be achieved by utilizing sustainable effective and science based policies and programs in conserving and sustaining marine resources,” he added.
Aside from the pandemic, other major challenges to the industry are illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; especially with other invasive countries encroaching in Philippine fishing waters. Climate change also poses a challenge, as its effect on the environment tends to cascade in the size and yield of the catch and negatively impacts biodiversity.
We are hopeful that aside from the ambitious plans and motherhood statements, the Department of Agriculture has real reason for its optimism with regards to our fish sufficiency levels, as well as the future of other agricultural outputs and general food sufficiency in the country.*