THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said it approved a plan to import 11,015 metric tons (MT) of frozen fish for wet markets in typhoon-hit areas to ensure adequate supply.

In a statement, the DA said on Monday that the imports will be distributed to the parts of the Visayas and Mindanao affected by Typhoon Odette (international name: Rai) in order to stabilize food prices.

The designated ports of entry are Davao City and Cebu City.

As of Jan. 3, agricultural damage caused by Odette was estimated at P10.7 billion, with 163,760 farmers and fisherfolk affected across 370,142-hectares of agricultural land, the DA said.

Lost production volume was 244,924 MT.

The fisheries sector was most affected with losses valued at P3 billion or 28.2% to the total, affecting 50,256 fisherfolk.

The DA said it will “ensure that the fish for wet markets to be imported will not compete with local catch,” with Sanitary and Phytosanitary Import Clearances covering these imports due to expire on Jan. 31.

Eligible importers need to have shipped in at least 70% of the volume applied for in the last importing round, with no pending cases. They must also sell imported fish at a wholesale price of P75 per kilogram.

“We are also giving notice to the National Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (NFARMC) to convene soonest to consider a proposal to import additional volumes of fish in 2022 under Fisheries Administrative Order (FAO) 259 for distribution in public wet markets, as most of the fish cages and mariculture parks in Visayas and Mindanao, (and some) in Calabarzon and Mimaropa, were badly damaged and need immediate repair or re-establishment,” Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said in a statement.

In August, a certificate of necessity was issued to import 60,000 MT of frozen small pelagic fish, in order to ensure adequate supply and keep prices in check. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson