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DA, BFAR under fire over fish imports

Republika

The Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) have garnered the ire of the Senate for negatively impacting the local fisheries sector by approving the importation of 60,000 metric tons of fish.


Senators Cynthia Villar and Imee Marcos were among those that grilled the two agencies during a hybrid public hearing.


Villar, chairperson of the Senate committee on agriculture and food scolded the DA and BFAR for not heeding the recommendation of the National Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (NFARMC) to suspend the closed fishing season, rather than just import more fish.


“My recommendation was instead of fish importation, just suspend the closed season. I am not knowledgeable on fisheries but that was the first I thought of. Now the NFARMC, that was their recommendation” she stated.


Furthermore, Villar said that the onslaught of Typhoon Odette did not destroy the fish supply so as to justify importation.


Meanwhile, Marcos wondered why the DA and BFAR did not follow the NFARMC recommendation but jumped the gun on importing fish.


The two senators then stated that as stipulated in the 1998 fisheries code, the DA must consult the multi-sectoral council before undertaking any fish importation.


On the other hand, however, DA Undersecretary for fisheries Sheryl Marie Caballero hit back by saying that the agriculture secretary has the authority to approve importation while the council may only provide recommendations.


Caballero is also the chairperson of the NFARMC and said that she did sign the council’s advisory against importation, but heeded the chain of command she is aware of.

Photo: Bored Productive


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