DAGUPAN CITY – In the wake of the recent fish kills in Anda and Bolinao affecting their respective fishing industries, Mayor Belen T. Fernandez immediately held talks with the city’s fisherfolk, vendors and other fishery stakeholders on June 4.
Among those present were P/SUPT. Jandale Sulit, City Agriculturist Emma Molina, City Health Officer Dr. Ophelia T. Rivera, Dagupan Fish Consignation and Ice Dealer Association (DAFCIDA) President Danila Cayabyab, fishing wardens, Consignation market vendors, and members of fishing cooperatives such as the Pederasyon ng mga Mangingisda sa Dagupan City (PEDMANDACI).
In the dialogue, Mayor Fernandez disclosed the urgent need to warn the city’s fisherfolks from overstocking their fishing structures as the practice was tagged as one of the contributory factors to the recent fish kill in Anda and Bolinao towns.
“I wanted to talk to our fishing cooperatives because they need to ensure that they will not overstock their structures and our rivers. We should be taking steps to ensure that we won’t have to endure a fish kill in our city.” said Fernandez.
In the same occasion, consignation market operators and vendors were urged not to sell any produce from the fish kills as this would be a direct violation of both RA 10611 or the “Food Safety Act of 2013” and RA 7394 or the “Consumer Act of the Philippines” and can cause health issues and hazards for their consumers.
They were also advised to tell their respective suppliers to obtain auxiliary invoices when bringing their produce into the city as these could regulate and monitor the transport of fishery products that are prohibited and banned under Fishery Law & International Treaties.
In response, DAFCIDA President Danila Cayabyab expressed her association’s commitment in abiding by the measures set by Fernandez, saying: “We have our moral responsibility to keep our consumers safe. We are obliged to do our part as business people, especially if the public‘s safety and health are at stake.”
Meanwhile, Zenaida Ugaban of the Provincial Agriculture Office discussed to the attendees the causes and effects of fish kill. Ugaban also disclosed that a dialogue will be conducted within the provincial government in order to discuss the assistance they would extend to the city as “the provincial government is always ready to help.”
City Health Officer Dr. Ophelia T. Rivera also discussed the health hazards and risks of consuming contaminated fish products and also urged the vendors to look into their products closely in order to keep consumers away from harm.
Meeting with the stakeholders was considered by Mayor Fernandez as a high-priority after the City Agriculture Office, together with the Dagupan PNP, apprehended three 10-wheeler trucks, two L-trucks and one closed van containing contaminated and spoiled bangus from the coastal town of Anda, Pangasinan on separate occasions on June 3 and 4.
The dead fishes were buried in an empty lot provided by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in Bonuan Binloc, according to P/Supt. Jandale Sulit during the dialogue.
Mayor Fernandez disclosed that meeting all fishery stakeholders immediately is important as the current situation could potentially affect the city’s lucrative bangus industry.
“This is a wakeup call for all of us and I hope we can all work together. We need to protect our bangus industry. We also have to keep protecting our river because it is the source of income and livelihood of our marginal fisherfolk,” said Fernandez. (Verdelle De Vera/CIO)