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Sardine canneries in deal to secure supply during closed fishing season

PHILSTAR FILE PHOTO

THE sardine canning industry has signed an agreement with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to ensure continued access to supply during the closed fishing season in the waters around Zamboanga Peninsula starting in December, the BFAR said.

The Canned Sardines Association of the Philippines (CSAP) entered into a memorandum of agreement (MoA) with BFAR allowing the sourcing of sardines from municipal fisherfolk during the closed season, BFAR Officer-in-Charge Demosthenes R. Escoto said. The closed season runs until March 1.

“The MoA will enable the sardine industry to have sufficient raw materials for canneries even during the Zamboanga closed fishing season for sardines and to include the participation of the municipal fisherfolk in the value chain,” Mr. Escoto said.

“It will ensure that the supply of tamban (herring) to the canneries will be on a continuous basis and essentially ensuring supply of canned sardines to the market,” he added.

Mr. Escoto said that the MoA will also be implemented in Sorsogon, which also supplies tamban to canneries in Manila, adding that the BFAR is open to expanding the arrangement to other areas.

“We have two areas where we are going to start implementation, in Sorsogon and Zamboanga. We intend the sardines coming from Sorsogon to be shipped to Manila to supply the canneries there, while those from Zamboanga will be supplying canneries in the area,” Mr. Escoto said.

According to Mr. Escoto, the MoA will also train municipal fisherfolk in proper fish handling, food safety hazards, and processing technology.

“With the approaching implementation of the annual closed fishing season for sardines in Zamboanga, the main producer of this commodity for our country, it is important that we unite and consolidate our efforts to address the various challenges confronting the industry,” Mr. Escoto said.

CSAP President Benjamin A. Sy said that the MoA allows canneries to continue their operations despite the fishing bans, which are imposed to permit fish stocks to regenerate.

“(We) are ensuring the employment of hundreds, if not thousands, of factory workers and adjacent industries when the canneries can continue to operate during the three-month fishing ban. Productivity during the three-month fishing ban means more employment, job security, and food on the table for many families,” Mr. Sy said.

The MoA was signed following a recent proposal of CSAP to the Department of Trade and Industry for a P3 price increase for canned sardine products due to high diesel prices, the depreciating peso, and the rise in the cost of tin used in cans.

According to CSAP Executive Director Francisco Buencamino, the price hike petition is still active.

“The price hike application was filed sometime in July of this year. The P3 increase is a very small portion of the finished canned price,” Mr. Buencamino said.

“The commercial fishing vessels catching fish for the canneries have seen evidence of dwindling supply. This additional supply from the municipal fishers is welcome.” — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave

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