Albay Rep. Joey Salceda on Sunday urged the Department of Trade and Industry as well as the Department of Agriculture to engage the canned fish sector over supply concerns, especially with sardines, during the close of the fishing season in the Zamboanga Peninsula.
“It looks like supply levels remain manageable, as the industry was able to meet the 75,000 metric tons it is required to store during the closed season. But I also expect demand for canned sardines to pick up this year,” he said.
The closed fishing season happens every year from Dec. 1 to Feb. 28. Salceda said his proposal would enable sardines to reproduce and “to ensure that there is no shortage of canned sardines during the subsequent season.”
“And there remain underlying issues, like the Suggested Retail Price being below the cost at which some of the canners produce. With marketing costs, the price is P20, which is above the P18 suggested retail price,” Salceda said.
The most immediate probable result is the lack of supply of some brands in the supermarkets, especially as manufacturers try to skip shelf-space fees in supermarkets, he noted.
“So I am requesting the DTI and DA to engage in dialogue with the industry and with small players and stakeholders as soon as possible, so we can prevent this potential problem from materializing,” he said.
“We also need to strengthen collaboration with alternative fish sources, such as Papua New Guinea, which is one of our biggest sources of sardines,” he added.
He said the country needs to ramp up the completion of 54 legislated hatcheries, only three of which have been completed.
“In the long run, of course, we really need to work on fish supply because climate issues won’t get easier any time soon,” he said.