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BFAR bans retail of imported fish

TUGUEGARAO CITY — The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in Region 2 here has issued a warning to fish transporters and dealers that it will now impose a ban on the retail of imported fish and fishery products.

The move is a priority of the BFAR national leadership pursuant to Fisheries Administrative Order 195.

Atty. Arsenio Bañares, officer in charge of Fisheries Management Regulatory and Enforcement Division of BFAR-2, mentioned during a meeting with transporters Thursday that the fishery products covered are what are commonly known in the wet markets as “frozen”.

These are imported mackerel, bonito, squid, sardines, salmon and salmon head and pangasius or cream dory.

“The importation of these fishery products is not prohibited, but the regulation states that these should go only to institutional buyers such as canneries, restaurant chains and fish processing plants, not to wet markets,” Bañares said.

He said the regulation aims to protect local fish producers and at the same time ensure good quality of fish in the wet markets.

While the order was issued way back 1999, the OIC said BFAR lacks personnel to enforce the law back then.

Also discussed during the meeting is the implementation of Republic Act 9147 (Conservation and Protection of Wildlife Resources and their Habitats) and FAO 233 governing trade of aquatic wildlife. Aquatic wildlife covers all species that are not farmed.

Speakers of the agency discussed relevant provisions of RA 10654, RA 9147, as well as CITES, covering the list of endangered and threatened fishery species.

Bañares said that fish transporters must secure a Local Transport Permit (LTP) for the shipment of fish and fishery products outside each province. The LTP can be secured in BFAR Provincial Fishery Offices in Aparri, Cagayan; San Mateo, Isabela; Diffun, Quirino and Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya as well as in its Regional Office.

Pursuant to FAO 233 and FAO 196, Bañares said the Quarantine Unit of the agency will strengthen existing checkpoints to check the entry and exit of fish and fishery products within Region 2.

BFAR-2 Regional Director Dr. Milagros Morales said that fishery law enforcers of the agency are ready to impose the new directives.

She added the ban can translate to business opportunity for local fishermen and fish growers.

“To date, we are only 42 percent fish sufficient in the region, thus there is ample demand that fish farmers and fishermen can try to satisfy,” Morales said. Max Prudencio/PNA

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