Food security advocacy group Tugon Kabuhayan today (February 8, 2021) welcomed the creation of a Subtask Group (STG) on Aquaculture and Fisheries by the IATF Task Group on Food Security chaired by Agriculture Secretary William Dar. The special panel was created to boost aquaculture production by streamlining processes necessary to identify potential sites and private sector investments.

“We appreciate IATF’s initiative to ensure food security during the pandemic and beyond. Industry stakeholders are ready to work with STG to create a policy framework for sustainable growth of the aqua and fisheries sector,” Tugon Kabuhayan said.

According to the group, it requested STG to look into the following key industry concerns:

  • Short term tenurial arrangements in existing mariculture sites that discourage substantial and long-term investments;
  • Absence of clear procedures and processes for allowing and approving operations in candidate aquaculture sites, making it difficult for serious investors to come in;
  • Limited government-approved pre-identified sites; and
  • Need for robust regulatory and monitoring mechanisms to ensure long term viability of approved aquaculture sites.

“The Philippine aquaculture industry is efficient, strong, and competitive. It doesn’t require state subsidies to survive. All it needs is a policy environment conducive for sustainable growth,” the group stressed.

Since food commodity prices are on the rise, the group said the STG initiative is timely and relevant. “Based on the prevailing prices from the recent DA Price Monitoring, pork and beef sell for P380 and P400 a kilo respectively and chicken at P180. Imported and local galunggong sells at P240 and P200 a kilo while aquaculture commodities like bangus and tilapia sell for only P160 and P120 respectively,” the group said.

In 2019, aquaculture production volume was 2,358 metric tons or 53.41% of total fish production. Total per capita consumption of pork, fish, beef, and meat in 2017 was estimated at 56 kilograms based on combined PSA and BFAR data. Of this, 36.8 kilos, or 66%, is from fish, more than half of which is from aquaculture. “Filipinos consume more fish protein. Fortunately, this is the most reasonably priced and readily available. Based on volume and prices, aquaculture is now the backbone of our protein food security,” the group added.