Councilor Isabelo Cosalan, Jr. has filed a proposed ordinance that would impose rules and regulations in the entry, handling, and sale of fresh, frozen, and processed fish and other fish products in the city.
In his proposal, Cosalan cited Republic Act 8550 or the Fisheries Code of the Philippines of 1998, as amended by RA 10654, which mandates every local government unit to enforce fishery laws, rules, and regulations, as well as valid fishery ordinances enacted by the local legislative body.
Under the proposed ordinance, all fish and fish products entering the city market shall be accompanied by an auxiliary invoice and a local transport permit. An auxiliary invoice is an official document issued by the LGU as evidence of transport of fish and dish products from the point of origin to the point of destination while a local transport permit is issued by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) authorizing an individual to ship aquatic wildlife acquired from legal sources.
For fish and fish products shipped to the city, a regulatory fee of P1 per kilogram shall be paid. For those shipped out from the city intended for sale in other places, a fish inspection certificate/permit with a fee of P100.
When unloading fish and fishery products, the following rules must be observed: unloading must be at the designated “bagsakan” areas; fish and fish products unloaded from the trucks shall be placed in impervious platforms or at least elevated from the ground; sorting at the unloading area is prohibited; throwing of fish in the bayera/crates/chest coolers/boxes when unloading is prohibited to prevent damage.
Wholesale of fish and fish products must be at the designated “bagsakan” or wholesale areas identified by the city government while retailing must be done only in individual stalls and not in “bagsakan” areas.
All fish post-harvest facilities such as fish processing plants, cold storages, and other fishery business establishments must have business permits, secure a license to operate from the Food and Drug Administration, and conform to the minimum standards set by BFAR, FDA, and the city government.
To ensure safety and sanitation in the sale and handling of fish and fish products at the city market, the following general rules shall be imposed:
Persons and entities engaged in the handling, sale, and distribution of fish at the wet markets shall secure a health certificate from the City Health Services Office; fish stalls must be made of stainless steel to prevent contamination; fish products shall be contained in a stainless tray if the table is made of wood; fish and other fish products must be stored in freezers and chillers or properly iced in coolers or styrofoam boxes with a 1:1 ice and fish ratio; the use of enhancing lights, mats, and other materials as a means to deceive the consumer as to freshness or wholesomeness is prohibited;
All fish and fish products for sale must be properly labeled as to their species of fish, otherwise, they shall be subject to confiscation; stale fish and fish products as well as those that show signs of spoilage on the basis of color and texture must be removed immediately or disposed of; scaling is strictly prohibited at the city market so as not to clog the drainage system; and trays, banyeras and other containers in transporting fish and other fish products must be washed with soap and clean water before and after use.
The ordinance shall also impose rules in selling and handling fresh, frozen, and processed fish/fish products.
To ensure that such rules and regulations are being complied with, the City Veterinary and Agriculture Office shall conduct regular inspections for all fresh, frozen, and processed fish/fish products in the city.
The proposed ordinance has been referred to the city council’s committee on market, trade, commerce, and agriculture for review. – Jordan G. Habbiling