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Philippines to import 60,000 metric tons of fish

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The Philippines will import 60,000 metric tons of small pelagic fish to offset a possible supply deficit, the agriculture department said on Tuesday. 

The country faces a potential 119,000-metric ton deficit of pelagic fish this quarter, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said, quoting data from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. 

He said typhoon Odette, the strongest typhoon of 2021 which battered the central and southern Philippines last month, caused some P3.97 billion worth of damage in fishing sector and left its production capacity "in question."

Dar noted high fish prices would accelerate inflation.

Taking all these into consideration, the official said, "I just signed yesterday a certificate of the need to import for this first quarter the amount of 60,000 metric tons of small pelagic fishes to be imported for this quarter of the year."

These fish live in the pelagic zone of ocean or lake waters, which is neither close to the bottom nor near the shore. 

Galunggong is an example of pelagic fish. Its price recently went up by P20 to P40 per kilo in some Metro Manila markets. 

Asked what could be driving the price increase, Dar said there were delays in the release of imported galunggong from cold storage facilities to wet markets. 

He said he has directed authorities "to see to it that you know, this imported galunggong, mush reach the wet markets as is the case."

"That is the very reason, why we are bringing additional supply augmentation. The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources has the power to open up these cold warehouses and see to it that this have to be brought to the wet markets," he said in a televised public briefing.