Officials eat seafood to assure wary consumers-A A +A
Saturday, August 24, 2013
JULIETA Labajo has been a fish vendor at the Pasil Fish Market in Cebu City for two decades.
She started by helping her mother, also a fish vendor, so she knows the ins and outs of the business.
Labajo said sea mishaps that involved casualties always brought down their sales. But the drop in their revenues after the sinking of M/V St. Thomas Aquinas is the lowest, so far.
“Dili man jud ingon ani ka-mingaw. Grabe jud ron (This is worse),” she said.
In Talisay City yesterday, local government officials—led by Mayor Johnny de los Reyes—also showed that it is safe to eat fish by having breakfast at the Tabunok Public Market.
Before the tragedy, Pasil fish vendors were able to sell an average of 50 tubs (banyera) a day.
Last Aug. 18, two days after the sinking of M/V St. Thomas Aquinas, people heard reports of the oil spill. Afraid that they would be eating oil-contaminated fish and shellfish, many people stopped buying products from the sea.
Labajo, president of the Pasil Toppers Association, said they would be happy to sell at least five tubs or banyeras a day.
Another fish vendor said they have been forced to sell one banyera of fish at half the price, or at P1,000 from P2,000.
Talisay fish vendors also complained of low sales due to the sinking of the vessel.
Apart from the oil spill, residents also feared that the fish in the waters off Talisay feasted on the bodies of M/V St. Thomas Aquinas passengers.
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources 7 earlier issued an advisory telling the public to continue to eat fish despite the oil spill that affected the shores of Lapu-Lapu City and Cordova town.
Cebu City Vice Mayor Edgar Labella is concerned about the plight of fish vendors, many of whom do not have other means of livelihood.
To assure people that the fish at Pasil is safe, Labella together with Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, Councilor Hans Abella, City Administrator Jose Marie Poblete, Market Administrator Raquel Arce and Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council operations officer Alvin Santillana ate breakfast at the market.
The city officials had fish in tomato stew, raw fish in vinegar (kinilaw), grilled fish and squid and shrimp.
During his talk with the fish vendors, Labella urged them to organize a cooperative so they will not be at the mercy of loan sharks.
He said he wants the chairperson of the committee on cooperatives in the City Council to help the fish vendors organize a cooperative and find ways to manage their finances.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 24, 2013.