Importation of fish, seafood products OK’d

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) has approved the importation of 38,695 metric tons (MT) of frozen fish and aquatic products in the second quarter of the year, in a bid to stabilize supply and market prices.

The DA released  the guidelines on the  issuance of sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances (SPSICS) for the certificates of necessity to import (CNI)  38,695 MT of frozen fish and aquatic products for wet markets.

Dar said the 38,695 MT comprise the remaining volume from the previously approved  60,000 MT in the first quarter.

“Based on BFAR (Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources)’s fish supply analysis for the rest of the year, we will face an estimated 90,000 MT fish supply deficiency, which we decided to plug by merely extending the previously approved CNI,”Agriculture Secretary William Dar told The Star in a text message.

He said the second quarter also coincides with the closed fishing season in the Davao region, which spans from June to August every year.

“We continue to monitor fish prices, which are now slightly increasing, and the decision to extend the CNI is part of the price stabilization efforts of the government,” Dar said.

Based on market monitors from the DA, the price of milkfish or bangus reached  P180 a kilo yesterday, higher than the P160 a kilo last month.

Similarly, the price of Indian mackerel jumped to P300 a kilo from P260 a kilo last month.

In contrast, the price of tilapia and local round scad or galunggong remained at P120 a kilo and P240 a kilo, respectively.

As of Friday, the price of imported galunggong registered at P240 a kilo, higher than last month’s P195 per kilo.

According to the guidelines released by the DA, the  CNI volume for the second quarter shall be immediately disposed of within 20 days upon arrival.

“Performance in the disposal as well as disposition reports may be taken as one of the considerations in determining the qualified importers for the next CNI that may be issued,”the DA said.

It said a bill of lading or pro-forma invoice shall form part of the documentary requirements for the issuance of SPS import clearances to be issued under the CNI volume.

According to the DA,  only importers of good standing may be allowed to participate in the importation, particularly those without any food safety or importation rules and regulation violations.

Under the guidelines, importers must be willing to sell the imported fish at a price determined after the auction which shall not exceed P90 and shall be traded only in any of the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority  (PFDA)-designated trading areas or PFDA fish ports for effective monitoring of fish disposition.

The importer must be willing to pay P500 for every metric ton of volume awarded.

“An initial volume of not less than 280 MT or equivalent to 10 container vans shall be allocated to each of the qualified importers, which they will immediately apply for an SPSIC with BFAR, the last day of which shall be by June 15,2022,”the DA said.

The BFAR shall immediately process SPSIC applications and endorse the same to the Secretary for approval.

In the application for SPSIC, the importer is required to identify the port of entry and final destination of the imported fish.

“All importers shall likewise observe the timeline for applications of SPSICs as may be provided by BFAR,”the DA said.

The administrative order was issued on May 23 and was effective immediately.

Meanwhile, in a separate administrative order, the DA revoked the temporary 30 day extension of the validity of SPSICs for meat imports.

“The current global COVID situation has subsided in many parts of the world, resulting in an easing of the supply chain and logistical restrictions,”the DA said.

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