October 2, 2023

The Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources assured the government is now preparing for the El Niño weather phenomenon.

In a statement, BFAR said mitigating measures are already in place to ensure there will be enough food supply.

The Pagasa issued on May 2 an El Niño alert, noting this might emerge in the second half of the year and could persist until early 2024.

BFAR National Director lawyer Demosthenes Escoto said the weather phenomenon has positive and negative impacts on the local supply.

Escoto said El Niño may be favorable to archipelagic species, such as tuna and sardines, because these organisms prefer warmer temperatures.

However, he said it may have a negative effect to land-based aquaculture species like bangus and tilapia since lower water levels may also mean scarcity of dissolved oxygen in their habitat.

Escoto assured the local fisherfolk could cushion the impact of El Niño on their catch by following good aquaculture practices, such as having the appropriate stock or number of fingerlings in their cages so they would not lack oxygen, thus lessening the probability of fish kill occurrence.

He added BFAR also intensified the information, education, and communication campaigns among fish farmers; boosting production of fish farming in cages in the mariculture parks; and ensuring sufficiency of fry and fingerlings.

The BFAR will also continue to closely monitor algae bloom for possible red tide occurrence and provide technical assistance on fish disease detection and treatment, among others.

Escoto said supply and prices of fish in local markets remain stable at present.

Citing the DA-BFAR’s latest price monitoring report, Escoto said a kilo of bangus costs P120 to P160, while prices of tilapia range from P130 to P150 per kilo.

Local fresh galunggong, meanwhile, are priced at P200 per kilo. – PNA