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Pinoys advised to eat more local fish

Filipinos are advised to eat more locally produced high-value fisheries products like tuna to make up for the export revenues that Philippines has been losing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On the part of the government, it should help local exporters identify the domestic markets where they can divert their products, especially now that it’s hard to export them to other countries.

Asis Perez, former director of Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), said in a virtual briefing Monday that exports of some of the country’s fisheries products have been falling due to COVID-19 pandemic, with lesser demand coming from the usual markets like Japan and several European countries.

“Some of our bigger tuna production, we normally bring that to Japan, but of course the Japan economy is also affected by the pandemic. It has a huge effect on exports,” Perez said.

“Then there’s the Philippines-Europe chain wherein we bring fisheries products to European countries by plane, but since flights are still irregular, as much 500 kilograms to 2 tons of fisheries products are affected,” he further said.

He then pointed out that these fisheries products can only be transferred by planes because they need to get to their destinations within 48 hours.

Perez, who also serves as the convenor of Tugon Kabuhayan, said compared to other staple food like bangus and tilapia, which can easily be taken up by the domestic market, the ‘high-end market’ for much expensive fisheries products like tuna and salmon definitely declined.

Tuna and salmon are considered high-value fisheries products and are either being exported to other countries or served in restaurants.  

According to Perez, the supply chain disruptions on fisheries exports particularly brought down the price of tuna from P200 per kilogram (/kg) to P140/kg to P150/kg over the past months.

Perez said that it’s important for the government to continuously promote the consumption of all the locally produced and caught fisheries products.

“We need to encourage local consumption. Producers are problematic where to sell their products,” he said.

He then added that the domestic market, based on the 36.7 kilograms per capita consumption for fish, is enough to compensate for the losses in export revenues if only the entire Philippine population will prefer fish over other food.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that during the second quarter of the year, the country’s agricultural exports went down by 20.6 percent to US$1.45 billion from US$1.83 billion last year. During the period, the value of agricultural export reflected a share of 11.4 percent to the total export of the country.

Of this, the category ‘preparations of meat, of fish, or of crustaceans, molluscs and other aquatic invertebrates’ accounted for revenues worth US$96.07 million, which is lower compared to its contribution of US$114.78 million last year.  

Tugon Kabuhayan, a group which Perez is now part of, is an advocacy group helping Filipino farmers by promoting domestic production, food safety and security and environmental protection, among others.

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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