Galunggong imports below quota as end of closed season nears

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IMPORTS of round scad, known as galunggong, topped 25,000 metric tons (MT) as the closed fishing season neared its end in northern Palawan, the main fishery for the species.

Imports of 25,056.27 metric tons (MT) amount to over half of the target volume during the closed season, according to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

The BFAR said imports were authorized starting November, as a measure to keep prices from rising while domestic fishing was suspended.

Regulators periodically shut down fisheries in order to allow fish stocks to regenerate.

The BFAR did not discuss why the import target was not met.

Galunggong is widely eaten as a source of protein by low-income families, and high prices of the commodity are deemed politically sensitive.

The BFAR said actual imports of frozen galunggong, bigeye scad, mackerel, bonito, and moonfish for wet markets have been within the volumes authorized when the Certificates of Necessity to Import (CNI) were issued.

CNIs were issued by the Department of Agriculture on Nov. 10 and are good until Jan. 31 this year.

The three-month closed fishing season was implemented annually since 2015 to “give the species time to reproduce and grow during its spawning season and to ensure sufficient supply of galunggong in the country.”

“Despite the on-going implementation of the closed season, the price of galunggong remains stable with local galunggong valued at P280/kilo while imported galunggong ranges from P220/kilo to P240/kilo,” BFAR said.

Palawan accounts for 89% of the galunggongs catch landed at Navotas Fish Port Complex last year.

Separately, overall volumes of fish unloaded at fish ports rose 41.33% from a month earlier to 45,355.24 MT in December, even as half of all fish ports reported declining volumes.

The Philippine Fisheries Development Authority said only two of the eight regional fish port complexes posted volume gains while volumes at two more were flat.

The other four posted declines due to bad weather or the closed fishing seasons.

The Navotas Fish Port Complex serving Metro Manila landed 15,493.89 MT in December, up 86.56% from a year earlier.

Volumes at the General Santos Fish Port Complex rose 7.61% year on year to 25,531.63 MT. The month-earlier total was 17,900.32 MT.

Volumes reported by the Lucena Fish Port Complex and Iloilo Fish Port Complex were flat year on year at 1,510.38 MT and 1,339.339 MT, respectively.

Posting declining volumes year on year were the Zamboanga Fish Port Complex (676.235 MT from 806.54 MT); Bulan Fish Port Complex (438.48 MT from 1,201.13 MT); Davao Fish Port Complex (310.72 MT from 371.61 MT); and Sual Fish Port (54.53 MT from 206.08 MT). — Sheldeen Joy Talavera