Fish sustains life for Navotas family

It took her all of 14 hours when she started to sell all the fish she imported was sold until regular customers poured into this busy port in search of bargain prices.

Sea nurtured Vendor tends to varieties of fish that she sells to ironically put enough food on the table for her family. | PHOTOGRAPH BY JOEY SANCHEZ MENDOZA FOR THE DAILY [email protected]_joey

September 11, 2022

Money is easy to get by at the Navotas Fish Port Complex, a popular pier that is considered an entrepot for marine products to the National Capital Region.

Among the most lucrative local port, it has nurtured generations who earn a living out of the resources of the deep sea. Among those relying on the fish port for their daily fare is Nerie Almario, 64, who has spent decades in the sea trade since settling in Navotas.

Tugpa (as they call the fishing trade) has enabled Almario and his late husband to support their children’s education.

She takes pride in her brood whose schooling came from earnings from the fish trade. Almario’s children are two businessmen and an airport technician who works in Singapore.

Almario started “pagtutugpa” or buying fish in bulk from vessels that dock at the fish port. Starting with a measly P1,000 as an investment in 1990, which she borrowed from a friend after she was laid off from a garment factory, the business now takes care of their family’s daily needs.

It took her all of 14 hours when she started to sell all the fish she bought was sold to customers who poured into this busy port in search of bargain prices.

“The fish catch is sent to the “consignation” or the venue where the “bulungan” (bidding) happens. When all the fish is sold, that’s the only time we can go home,” she said.

“But when we’re selling to our suki (regular customers), they can go straight to us without the need to negotiate the prices. They are mostly suppliers of the busiest wet markets in Metro Manila,” she added.

No matter the competition, everything gets eventually sold out in this seafood Mecca.

“The only real competition is who will have their fish sold out first, because you run out of supplies early, you can always buy and sell it again,” Almario said.

Fish ports get busy

The government’s fish port complex provides services such as unloading and marketing of fish both from commercial and municipal fishing vessels; provision of facilities for harbor operations including dry docking and other services that makes possible the sale of fish catch to the market.

Companies engaged in sardines and tuna canning frequent the port to sell their products. NFPC also provides the space for the establishment of fishery-related factories.

“The Navotas Fish Port Complex has recovered from months of decline after processing 17,605.21 metric tons of fishes, a 14.16-percent increase,” according to port manager Luz Ortiz.

Regional fish ports have recorded a total 19.70 percent climb in monthly fish unloading after delivering 58,132.09 MT of fish in June 2022, which is the highest record for the year.

Based on the information from Philippine Fisheries Development Authority-Modified Integrated Corporate Reporting System, the General Santos Fish Port Complex remains one of the leaders in terms of sale of marine commodities after unloading 33,109.02 MT of fish or a 30.91-percent increase.

Moreover, the PFDA — Lucena Fish Port Complex has also been consistent in its monthly unloading after registering another rise in fish volume.

The South Luzon port has recorded 2,280.69 MT of fish, equivalent to a 19.54 percent increase.

In addition, the PFDA — Sual Fish Port registered a whopping 242.18-percent increase after the port tripled its monthly unloading volume to 384.20 MT.

PFDA – Iloilo Fish Port Complex’s output had stumbled slightly in June, but still supplied 2,162.93 MT of fishery products to its consumers.

In Davao Gulf, the PFDA —Davao Fish Port Complex, despite the closed fishing season, was delivered an adequate volume of fish to its consumers at 350.50 MT.

“There are many types of fish and, believe me, they taste different from each other, it’s not just fish that we can serve, there are also squid, crab, lato (seaweeds) and many others,” Almario said.

Asked about her advice to those who want to harness the wealth of the sea: “Never mind the smell. What’s important is the money you earn for your family and what you do to help your community.”

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