DESPITE the significant decrease of P4.518 billion in the value of fisheries production in Central Visayas in 2022, a local fisheries officer has assured the public that there is no need to worry about the status of fish supply in the region during the holiday season.
Laila Bragat, information officer of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (Bfar) 7, said recovery efforts have been made this year to counter last year’s drop in the value and volume of production in fisheries products.
“There is nothing to worry about the data, especially on the supply of fisheries products. The data released was the result for 2022, and we are hopeful for a good turnout for 2023,” Bragat told SunStar Cebu on Friday, Dec. 15.
According to the 2022 Performance of Agriculture and Fisheries report released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) 7 on Dec. 4, the region saw the biggest drop in fisheries output in 2022 among all 16 regions in the country by percentage.
Data from the PSA 7 show that fisheries’ value of production plunged Central Visayas to the bottom of the list, from P12.01 billion in 2021 to P7.492 billion in 2022, a 38.1 percent decrease.
PSA 7 chief statistician Leopoldo Alfanta Jr. said Central Visayas posted the highest decrease in the production of fisheries. The region is followed by Northern Mindanao (Region 10), which suffered a 32.4 percent drop.
Mimaropa (Region 4B) ranked third, recording a 12.9 percent decline in production value.
The Davao Region (Region 11) recorded the highest increase at 63.2 percent.
Both Soccsksargen (Region 12) and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao each saw a 10.6 percent increase, while the Cagayan Valley (Region 2) registered an 8.6 percent increase.
During a recent information dissemination conference in Cebu City, representatives from the Department of Agriculture 7 and the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) 7 shared their insights on the data.
Alfanta reported that in terms of production value, the top fisheries products are species not listed as commodities with a value of P2.68 billion. These include bullet tuna or bansikol, red bull-eyed or baga, barracuda or tabangko, octopus, cuttlefish or kugotan, and eel or bakasi, among others.
P. vannamei or whiteleg shrimp is second on the list (valued at P1.23 billion), followed by big-eyed scad or matangbaka (P495 million).
Siganid or samaral ranks fourth (P374 million), and round scad or galunggong is fifth (P342 million). Indo-Pacific mackerel or hasa-hasa ranks sixth (P40 million), followed by tiger prawn (P69 million).
In terms of crop production volume by commodity in Central Visayas, seaweed ranks highest among the non-highlighted fisheries species, produced at 13.22 thousand metric tons. It is followed by P. vannamei or whiteleg shrimp at 4.75 thousand metric tons.
Other fisheries not included in the primary list of commodities collectively topped the production volume at 30.21 thousand metric tons.
Tiger prawn had the lowest production in the region, at just .2 thousand metric tons, with Indo-Pacific mackerel or hasa-hasa slightly higher at .41 thousand metric tons.
Alfanta noted that in 2022, only anchovies or dilis and flying fish or bolador showed positive growth in production value, at 121.9 percent and 10 percent, respectively.
He said majority of highlighted fisheries products saw a decline in value. Indo-Pacific mackerel saw the steepest fall at 70.3 percent, followed by grouper or lapu-lapu with a 70 percent drop.
Neil Andrew Menjares, supervisor of the Development Research Division at the Neda 7, attributed the 2022 decrease in fisheries production value to typhoon Odette. Although the typhoon occurred on Dec. 16, 2021, he said its effects persisted into 2022, with fishermen still recovering from the destruction.
In addition to the typhoon, Bragat said fishermen were also affected by increased fuel costs and climate change. She explained that constant changes in weather patterns, including shifts in temperature, ocean currents and sea levels, have the potential to disrupt fish distribution and abundance.
Despite these challenges, Bragat is optimistic. She said projections for 2023 show improvement due to ongoing recovery efforts, potentially leading to an increase in both the value and volume of fisheries production.
Bragat reported a positive trend in fisheries output in the first and second quarters of 2023, although there was a slight decrease in the third and fourth quarters, particularly for some species. Exact figures are not yet available.
To address these issues, the Bfar 7 has implemented a three-month closed fishing season for specific fish species to promote their recovery. This measure, under Fisheries Administrative Order 167-3, started on Nov. 15 and will last until Feb. 15, 2024.
Bragat said the region is currently allowing the transport of fish species affected by the fishing ban, specifically sardines or lupoy, herrings or salinyasi, and mackerels or manansi, from other parts of the country.
She clarified that aside from the species mentioned, the supply of other fish in the region is stable, meaning there is no need for imports.