February 9, 2024
Improved infrastructure, expanding agro-industry expected to drive Philippines fisheries production's rebound
Fisheries production in the Philippines is expected to rebound in 2024 on the back of enhancements to supporting infrastructure and an initiative to develop agro-industrial estates focused on fisheries products, analysts said.
"This value chain approach is likely to increase production at all levels," Asis G. Perez, convenor of advocacy group Tugon Kabuhayan, said.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) said that it was planning to invest in more infrastructure to support the agri-fisheries sector.
Philippines Agriculture Secretary Francisco P. Tiu Laurel, Jr. also sought to expand the functions of the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority to develop and manage marine-agro-industrial estates.
However, Philippine Association of Fish Producers, Inc. chairman David B. Villaluz said that the aquaculture sub-sector will continue to face challenging conditions due to the increasing price of fish feed.
"(Until fish feed prices fall) …production will be significantly impacted," Villaluz said. He added that fish producers may reduce their use of feed by 50%, ultimately affecting output levels.
"If we are only using natural food in fish ponds, production may drop to 600 to 750 kilogrammes per hectare annually. But if we use (commercially produced) fish feed, production would be 2 to 2.5 metric tonnes per hectare a year," he added.
Last year, fisheries production dropped 6.5%, accelerating the 5% decline recorded in the prior year, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.
Perez said that the DA's plan to revive aquaculture in Laguna de Bay will improve output.
Laguna de Bay currently produces about 90,000 metric tonnes of freshwater fish annually and provides livelihoods to 13,000 fisherfolk, according to the Laguna Lake Development Authority.
"That can be an increased by over 30,000MT a year… in bangus (milkfish) and tilapia production. When the previous administration froze new fish cultivation operations (in Laguna de Bay), we lost about 45,000MT of production from the lake alone," Perez added. "The new initiative to build up output from Laguna de Bay will have a tremendous impact on production… (output will immediately rise 5%)."
Villaluz said the Philippines government should focus on fisheries research and developing low-cost feed.