President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said on Tuesday the government will put up nearly a dozen cold storage facilities in various fish ports in the country to address the high spoilage of Filipino fishermen’s catch.
He said the plan is to build 11 more cold storage facilities on top of those already being constructed at ports in the cities of General Santos and Cagayan de Oro, adding that he expects these facilities to be operational by the end of this year.
“We decided that one of the areas that was identified was the spoilage of the fish there from the handling from the fishing boats up to the ports, up to the markets, there was a very high rate of spoilage,” the President noted in an interview after meeting with officials of various departments and attached agencies.
Mr. Marcos presided over a sectoral meeting attended by officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA).
The President called for the meeting to discuss the Philippine Fisheries Program, specifically on how to address the declining fishery production and reduce post-harvest losses.
“The solution we formulated is to create cold storage facilities there at the fish ports so that we can preserve the fish and so that it will not just be thrown out due to spoilage,” Mr. Marcos added, noting that the move would also improve the supply of fish in the country.
Current fish spoilage, according to BFAR, is between 25 to 40 percent because of the shortage of post-harvest equipment like blast freezers and ice-making machines, as well as facilities like cold storage warehouses and fish landing sites.
If the country could lower the spoilage of fish catch between 8 to 10 percent, the Philippines would no longer depend on importing fish from other nations, the President also pointed out.
“So we made a plan, there is a plan ongoing. We are building cold storage facilities. There is an expansion in other places such as GenSan, and the CDO, they already have facilities and there are more to be placed in other places. Altogether 11 areas we will be installing cold storage,” Mr. Marcos explained.
“In the smaller shacks, we will provide an ice-making machine so that it can be put on ice immediately so that the fish will stay fresh for a long time,” the Chief Executive pointed out.
The President also underscored the need to improve aquaculture in the country by modernizing fishponds to boost their production.
“The biggest problem we have seen is the provision of credit that is given – there is a loan for our fishermen so that they have something to use, they have the capital to improve their fishpond,” Mr. Marcos said.
The President added: “Then there’s the conversion to fish cages, which has a bigger production. We have to teach that kind of technology, and of course we have to give funds for the new equipment, the necessary supplies so that our fishermen can get something.”
Mr. Marcos said the government is also looking at mariculture to bolster the country’s food security and fish output.
“There are different places in the Philippines that have small operations in that regard. But in my opinion, because there is a big market for the garoupa, the siganids, the snappers, the expensive fish, we can still export that if our system is good,” the Chief Executive said.
“So we looked at it, we will make a plan, the DA (Department of Agriculture), (Bureau of) Fisheries, we will make a plan to encourage, to encourage our businessmen to enter mariculture to help our fishermen (boost) their value-added,” the President added.
Mariculture or marine farming is a specialized branch of aquaculture involving the cultivation of marine organisms for food and other animal products, in enclosed sections of open ocean, fish farms built on littoral waters, or in artificial tanks, ponds, or raceways that are filled with seawater.