MANILA — Government on Friday suspended its ban on the sale of imported pampano and salmon in wet markets.
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources took consideration of recommendations from lawmakers and fisheries stakeholders, said its officer-in-charge Demosthenes Escoto.
"The Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources is declaring a moratorium in its operations in wet markets with regard to the presence of diverted imported pink salmon, pompano, and other fish products effective immediately," Escoto said in a press conference.
The BFAR said it would instead intensify its campaign against illegal fish in ports and cold storage facilities.
"We will go back, we will revert to the original strategy we're doing, which is concentrating on ports, storages but not on the wet markets," he said.
The bureau earlier noted that a 23-year-old fisheries order allowed the importation of salmon and pampano for hotels, restaurants, and canneries.
About 25 to 30 percent of fish in wet markets are illegally diverted imported fish, the BFAR said.
Asked if the public can now buy pink salmon and pampano following the ban's suspension, Escoto did not give a categorical answer and instead told consumers, "Merry Christmas."
Several lawmakers and groups earlier said the ban on certain imported fish was "anti-poor" and "anti-consumer."
The BFAR will review its policies on importation and release new regulation by the first quarter of 2023.
There is no information yet on until when the moratorium will last.
Some fish vendors welcomed the ban's suspension.
Prices of salmon and pampano went up following news about ban that was supposed to start on Dec. 4, and some vendors reportedly hoarded supplies.