AT LEAST 11 more cold storage facilities will be set up in various fish ports nationwide and these are expected to be operations by the end of 2023, said President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Tuesday, March 14, 2023.

Marcos ordered the establishment of cold storage facilities to prevent the spoilage of the fishermen’s catch. He said these 11 additional facilities will be on top of those already being constructed at various ports in the cities of General Santos and Cagayan de Oro.

He said they came up with the idea after a sectoral meeting attended by officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the Cooperative Development Authority on Tuesday, March 14, 2023.

The meeting centered on the Philippine Fisheries Program, specifically on how to address the declining fishery production and reduce post-harvest losses.

“So we decided that one of the areas that was identified was the spoilage of the fish doon sa handling from galing sa bangka, galing sa fishing boat, hanggang sa bagsakan, hanggang sa palengke napakalaki ang nagiging spoilage,” Marcos said.

(So we decided that one of the areas identified was the spoilage of the fish during handling from the boat, from the fishing boat, to the wreckage, and to the market.)

“Ang naging solusyon diyan ay maglagay ng cold storage facilities doon sa mga bagsakan ng isda para ma-preserve naman ‘yung isda at hindi natin kailangan itapon ang maraming nasisira, napapanis na isda,” he added.

(The solution identified is to put cold storage facilities in the fish farms so that the fish can be preserved and we don’t have to throw away a lot of perishable fish.)

In smaller facilities, Marcos said ice-making machines will be provided.

Marcos also raised the need for the country to improve its aquaculture by modernizing the fishponds in order to boost production.

He said the government will provide loans and other necessary assistance to fish growers.

The President said they are also looking into mariculture or marine farming, a specialized branch of aquaculture involving cultivation of marine organisms for food and other animal products, in enclosed sections of open ocean, fish farms built on littoral waters, or in artificial tanks, ponds or raceways which are filled with seawater, to bolster the country’s food security and fish output.

“Mayroon mga iba’t ibang lugar sa Pilipinas na mayroong mga maliliit na operation tungkol diyan. Ngunit sa aking palagay dahil malaki ang market para sa mga – ‘yung garoupa, ‘yung mga siganid, ‘yung mga snapper, ‘yung mamahalin na isda ay pwede pa natin i-export ‘yan kung maganda ang ating sistema,” Marcos said.

(There are different places in the Philippines that have small operations in that regard. But in my opinion, because there is a big market for — the garoupa, snappers, expensive fish, we can still export that if our system is good.)

“Kaya’t tiningnan namin gagawa kami ng plano, ng DA, Fisheries, gagawa kami ng plano para ma-encourage, para naman hihikayatin natin na ‘yung ating mga negosyante pumasok sa mariculture para matulungan ang ating mga mangingisda para matulungan ang kanilang value added,” he added.

(So we will make a plan, the DA, Fisheries, to encourage our businessmen to enter into mariculture to help our fishermen.)

Data from BFAR showed that the country’s current fish spoilage is between 25 to 40 percent due to the lack of post-harvest facilities.

Marcos said the country will no longer have to depend on importing fish if the fish spoilage will be cut down by about eight to 10 percent. (SunStar Philippines)