BUREAU of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) 7 Director Allan Poquita urged local chief executives on Tuesday, March 31, 2020, to support fishermen and fish traders whose livelihood were affected by the economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
Poquita said Covid-19 has been crippling the fishing industry as local governments imposed travel and movement restrictions to prevent the spread of the deadly disease.
“Fewer people are allowed to go out from their homes to buy basic necessities and commodities. Some traders could hardly pass through borders because of the enhanced community quarantine. We fully support the measures imposed by the local government units but we are also asking their help to address the plight of our fishery stakeholders,” he said.
Poquita asked local officials to allow the entry of fish suppliers and vendors to the fish ports in Central Visayas. The two famous fish ports in Cebu are located in Barangay Pasil, Cebu City and in Danao City.
The BFAR 7, for its part, has been issuing food passes to suppliers and truckers, granting them privilege to get through checkpoints so the movement of cargo, fish and other food products are unhampered.
Poquita encouraged the local government units, through their agriculture offices, to facilitate the transport of fish products from ports to their fish markets.
The local officials, he said, may also purchased the fish products available in their markets and gave them to their constituents.
Setting up an accessible mini-fish market would also be a good move to assist small-time fishermen in selling their catch, said Poquita.
The BFAR 7 decided to seek help from local governments after it heard the complaints of several fishermen and fish vendors.
During its regular price monitoring activities, many vendors aired out their concern as fish trade reportedly slowed down. They said only a few dealers or customers got to buy their products.
Some vendors were forced to sell fresh fish at low prices so they could quickly dispose of the fish, which easily rots.
Most buyers from other provinces or towns cannot travel or get through borders because of the restricted movement and banned entry of passengers from outside Cebu.
Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture (DA) 7 has started giving free vegetable seeds to encourage people to grow food in their own backyards.
“While the enhanced community quarantine is (still in effect), make your home stay productive and enjoyable through backyard vegetable gardening,” DA 7 Director Salvador Diputado said.
The seeds that are given by the DA 7 include okra, bitter gourd, squash, eggplant, string beans, lettuce, kangkong, bell pepper, tomato, cucumber and cabbage, among others. The DA 7 personnel started distributing the seeds to the agriculture offices in towns and cities in Cebu. (WBS from PR with JOB)