BFAR9 FACILITATES MOVEMENT OF ZAMPEN FISH PRODUCTS AMIDST COVID-19 PANDEMIC
Zamboanga Peninsula is fast emerging as the fish basket of the Philippines supplying a substantial portion of the fish requirements of the country and accounting for 70% of the nation’s sardine production. The importance of the region in food security throughout the archipelago becomes more apparent in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic which struck the nation unprepared during the first quarter of this year.
As most parts of the country were placed under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) to arrest the spread of the Corona virus disease, supply and transport of food was seriously affected, slowing down despite the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) policy not to hamper food transport activities in all quarantine checkpoints during the ongoing national health emergency and implementation of Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ).
BFAR-IX thru the Fisheries Inspection Quarantine Section (FIQS) and its Provincial Fishery Offices (PFOs) immediately and decisively responded to the need for fast movement of fish food and other aquatic products by issuing a Food Pass Advisory for the public and streamlined its procedures to facilitate the issuance of Food Pass and Local Transport Permits (LTPs) for local suppliers and producers of agri-fisheries commodities, including feeds and fingerlings.
From March 15, 2020 to May 15, 2020, a total of one thousand two hundred eighty-seven (1,287) Food Passes were approved and distributed for applicants of fisheries products who requires conveyance of their commodities within as well as outside the region. Zamboanga City issued the bulk of the Food Passes constituting six hundred fifty-nine (659) passes or 51% of the total passes granted, while Zamboanga del Sur had accorded its clientele a total of 276 Food Passes (21%), followed by Zamboanga Sibugay Province with 214 Food Passes (17%) and 138 Food Passes (11%) by Zamboanga del Norte.
On the other hand, the Bureau maintained its inspection services amidst the COVID-19 situation and has issued Five Thousand Five Hundred Sixty-Seven (5,567) Local Transport Permits (LTPs) for fish and fisheries products. This is an agency mandate to ensure that fish food commodities for transport are safe for consumption and are not sourced out from illegal means. The entirety of the issued LTPs from March 15 to May 15, 2020 constitutes a volume of Twenty-Six Million Eight Hundred Four and Eighty-Nine kilograms (26,804,089 kgs OR 26,804.089 metric tons) with an estimated value of 2.041 Billion Pesos of fisheries products and commodities. Region 9 produces and locally exports not only sardines and its by-products but also other in-demand fish and aquatic species like fresh Mackerel, round and big-eyed Scad, Milkfish, Yellowfin Tuna, fresh chilled Octopus, Squid, Prawn, and even abalone and raw/ dried Seaweeds.
The above-mentioned fish products and aquatic commodities will be transported and sent to their final destinations in the National Capital Region as well as various places in the Philippines such as Davao, Cagayan, Cebu, Cotabato, Bacolod, Bukidnon, Butuan, Tacloban, General Santos City and other neighboring regions, thus, securing sufficient and affordable food for all Filipinos.
The Top 5 identified commonly transported products yielded into canned sardines being the top 1 with a total volume of 2,429 metric tons with an estimated value of 152.94 Million pesos followed by fresh round scad with a volume of 1,747 metric tons and 222.26 Million pesos estimated value. Third on the rank was fresh sardines with 1,083 metric tons and 44.79 Million pesos estimated value followed by Dried sardines and dried round scad with volumes of 586 metric tons and 511 metric tons and estimated value of 33.57 Million and 40.61 Million, respectively.
The ranking proved Zamboanga Peninsula as the Sardines Capital of the Country!!