Import of fish, seafood products OK’d

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

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

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

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

He added that the second quarter also coincides with the closing of the fishing season in the Davao region, which runs from June to August every year.

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

Based on DA market monitors, the price of milkfish or bangus reached 180 pesos per kilo yesterday, higher than 160 pesos per kilo last month.

Similarly, the price of Indian mackerel fell from 260 pesos per kilo to 300 pesos per kilo last month.

By contrast, the price of tilapia and the local round scad or galunggong remained at 120 pesos per kilo and 240 pesos per kilo, respectively.

On Friday, the price of imported galunggong was 240 pesos per kilo, higher than last month’s 195 pesos per kilo.

According to guidelines issued by the DA, second trimester CNI volume must be disposed of immediately within 20 days of arrival.

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

He said that a bill of lading or pro forma invoice will be part of the documentary requirements for the issuance of SPS import permits to be issued under the CNI volume.

According to the DA, only importers in good standing can be allowed to participate in the import, especially those who fail to comply with food safety or import rules and regulatory violations.

According to the guidelines, importers must be willing to sell the imported fish at a price determined after the auction which must not exceed P90 and must only be marketed in one of the trading areas designated by the Philippine Authority. Fisheries Development (PFDA) or at PFDA fishing harbors for effective monitoring of fish disposal.

The importer must be prepared to pay 500 pesos for each metric ton of assigned volume.

“An initial volume of at least 280 MT or the equivalent of 10 container vans will be allocated to each of the qualified importers, which they will immediately request for a SPSIC with the BFAR, the last day of which will be June 15, 2022, “said the prosecutor.

The BFAR will immediately process the SPSIC requests and submit them to the Secretary for approval.

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

“All importers must also adhere to the SPSIC application timeline as provided by the BFAR,” the DA said.

The administrative order was issued on May 23 and took effect immediately.

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

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