BFAR bans imported frozen fish

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TUGUEGARAO CITY, CAGAYAN: The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in Cagayan Valley (Region 2) on Friday said it will soon impose a ban on the retail of imported frozen fish and fishery products and warned fish transporters and dealers to comply with the order.

BFAR Region 2 Fisheries Management Regulatory and Enforcement Division chief, Arsenio Bañares, said fishery products covered are those in the wet markets commonly known as “frozen.”

“These are imported mackerel, bonito, squid, sardines, salmon and salmon head and pangasius or cream dory,” he said.

Bañares said the move is top priority of BFAR’s national leadership pursuant to Fisheries Administrative Order (FAO) 195 issued in 1999 but lacked manpower to enforce it back then.

However, he clarified that the importation of these fishery products is not prohibited.

“The regulation states that these should go only to institutional buyers such as canneries, restaurant chains and fish processing plants, not to wet markets,” Bañares said.

He added that the regulation only aims to protect local fish producers and ensure quality of fish in the wet markets.

On September 5, BFAR officials met to inform transporters and dealers regarding pertinent regulations as well as the bureau is banning.

The stakeholders were oriented on relevant provisions of laws on the conservation and protection of wildlife resources and their habitats, including the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) or the list of endangered and threatened fishery species.

“Transporters will be required to secure Local Transport Permit (LTP) for the shipment of fish and fishery products outside each province,” Bañares said.

BFAR said it maintains fishery offices in Aparri, Cagayan; San Mateo, Isabela; Diffun, Quirino and Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya as well as in its regional office where transporters can secure their LTP.

“We will strengthen existing checkpoints under our Quarantine Unit and install some more to check on the entry and exit of fish and fishery products within the region pursuant to FAO 233 and 196,” Bañares said.

FAO 233 governs trade of aquatic wildlife which include all species that are not farmed.

BFAR Region 2 Director Milagros Morales said fishery law enforcers of the bureau are ready to enforce the new directives.

“The impending ban can translate to a great business opportunity for local fishermen and fish growers,” Morales said.

She added the region is only 42 percent fish sufficient and there is a great demand that fish farmers and fishermen can try to satisfy.

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