Malolos City—Growers, small fishermen, market dealers, brokers, fishpen and fishpond operators in Rizal and Laguna, and fingerling suppliers and traders from Bulacan, Pampanga, Bataan, Pangasinan and Metro Manila are seeking the help of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to address the shortage of bangus or milkfish, and its high price.
In a “Letter of Appeal to the President,” the Bangus Industry Stakeholders & Dealers Alliance said the price of milkfish has risen from P90 to P120 to P170 to P200 per kilo.
BISDA officials said they would hold a press conference Monday to press the President to intercede to immediately address “the misguided policies in the management of the lake waters in Rizal and Laguna.”
BISDA said bangus producers in Pangasinan, Pampanga, and Bulacan recently suffered millions of pesos in losses from overflowed fishponds due to the monsoon rains brought by recent typhoons.
In the past, even when typhoons damaged fishponds in Central and Northern Luzon, the freshwater bangus from Laguna de Bay could make up any shortages and prevent prices from going up, the group said.
But now policies by the Laguna Lake Development Authority have disrupted the stocking, breeding and spawning growth of bangus, resulting in a huge mortality rate, the group said.
Rizal province alone suffered a 78.8-percent decline in milkfish production in the first quarter of 2018 from the same period in 2017.
Joel Dizon, BISDA spokesman, said while the LLDA is capable of implementing environmental and ecological policies, it lacks the foresight and expertise to manage the fishing industry in the lake.
“We join the opinion of the experts that point to the real culprits (industrial, agricultural, and domestic wastes) to the water degradation of the lake and not the fishpens where bangus feed on natural algae (phytoplanktons). We do not use fish feeds—that is why our bangus is cheaper than those grown in fishponds of Central Luzon,” he said.
BISDA asked the President to recall and revoke LLDA’s Board Resolution No. 540, which they blamed for the reduction of fishpens from 12,500 hectares to only 4,076, without any plan on how to augment the loss of a sizable percentage of fish production.
BISDA also opposes LLDA’s plan to implement a total relocation of all fishpens to comply with its 2018 zone management guidelines, which the group said would disrupt aquaculture in the lake for two to three years.
“This move will be a disaster to the bangus industry as the new zone management guidelines are not conducive to aquaculture,” BISDA said.
On Sunday, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the direct selling of Bukidnon farmers’ vegetable crops at lower prices at the Bureau of Plant Industry’s central office in Malate, Manila will be a regular activity every Friday and Saturday.
Under the DA’s TienDA marketing program, the weekly activity is aimed at sustaining the availability of lower-priced vegetables in Metro Manila and income for vegetable growers from Bukidnon in northern Mindanao.
“We’re inviting representatives of market vendors and homeowners’ associations, supermarket procurement officers, and others to visit TienDA, so they can meet the farmers,” Piñol said at the opening of the TienDA market last Friday.
He said carrots, potatoes, cauliflower, and other vegetables produced in Bukidnon’s Impasugong, Talakag, Sumilao, and Lantapan towns will be available at the TienDA market, giving the public an opportunity to buy these at lower prices.
“Vegetables there [Bukidnon] are cheap. So even if we bring these to Metro Manila, such produce can still sell at lower prices,” he said. With PNA
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