DA mulls lifting moratorium on sale of salmon, pampano

(Photo from Unsplash)

Citing bad timing and strong clamor from consumers, the Department of Agriculture said it is considering lifting the moratorium on selling imported fish like pampano and salmon in public wet markets.

In an interview with reporters on Thursday, Agriculture spokesperson Rex Estoperez said the DA has set a meeting with the Bureau of Fish and Aquatic Resources and some legislators to discuss how they can resolve the backlash on the restriction that was based on a policy enacted in 1999.

“If the policy was set in 1999, why are we implementing this only now? It seems that there was a disconnection with the timing of the policy implementation, especially since it’s Christmas time. Definitely, we have to balance the needs of consumers and the clamor of retailers,” Estoperez told reporters.

“We are considering lifting the moratorium; we have yet to decide when, but we will know the final decision this week,” he added.

Fisheries Administrative Order No. 195 only allows big companies, hotels, and restaurants to sell fish like salmon and pampano — a policy aimed at helping local fishermen sell their products. Such imported fish should only be used for canning, processing, and for institutional buyers like hotels and restaurants.

The BFAR previously gave vendors only until 3 December to sell imported pampano and salmon, after which it will confiscate these fish.

“The policy implementation may not be suitable for us now so we have to amend or improve whatever is needed here,” Estoperez said.

In his privilege speech during a plenary session,  Senator Raffy Tulfo said  prohibiting small fish vendors from selling salmon and pampano is “anti-poor.”

Tulfo said some vendors are now worried that they may have to find an alternative livelihood once the BFAR order becomes effective.

Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda also demanded that BFAR submit an explanation on the 22-year delayed implementation and rationale of the ban.

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