By Dalisay DG. Fernandez

There are high export potentials for the Philippines’ fish and fishery products, making the country a key player in the export market.

This is the result of the country’s vast natural resources, and the market demand and good prices being offered for export products. There is a need to address the inadequate supply of raw materials encountered by exporters and to help small and medium entrepreneurs (SMEs) promote live and frozen fish and fishery products.

Problems regarding live fish and fishery products businesses include the inadequate supply of raw materials, postharvest losses, wastage in processing, poor quality products, adulterated raw materials, irregularity of supply, and stringent export requirements.

In terms of marketing and the export of live and frozen fish and fishery products, the problems the country faces include obtaining export requirements, competition with other countries, registration requirements, and multilayer marketing systems.

In consideration of these problems, the recent Fisheries Women Entrepreneurs’ Forum identified some of the products with export potential to include black tiger shrimp, prawns, crabs, tuna, abalone, lobster, octopus, cuttlefish, milkfish, seaweeds, groupers, squid, eel, siganid, and hair tail.

The forum was conducted by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCAARRD-DOST), National Network of Women in Fisheries, Inc. (WINFISH), and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources-Region 13 (BFAR-13).

The gathering identified problems that affect the country’s fish and fishery products, as well as the necessary measures required to help the SMEs which are engaged in manufacturing these products.

Several measures were identified to address these concerns. These include providing SMEs with the relevant training and seminars, technical assistance, investment in R&D, and access to foreign markets.

The forum also determined the need for processors to be knowledgeable about the rules and regulations in the trade and export of fish and fishery products, competitive and sustainable development/continued expansion of aquaculture, the European market for exportable fishery products, agreement for market access for fish and fishery products, trade rules and regulatory cooperation, intellectual property rights, services and investment, and public procurement.

In the development of live and frozen fish and fishery products export businesses, the industry’s needs include the development of linkages with the present exporters, organization of exporters, updated training on fish handling and orientation on food safety (GMP, SSOP, and HACCP), technical assistance for packaging/labeling, and improvement in fish handling protocols.

At present, processors feel that the fish and fishery productbusiness has a big opportunity to expand with the help of the concerned government agencies.

Through the forum, the participants learned the potentials of live and frozen fish and fishery products; about the export business and its requirements; market matching; linkages for export and marketing strategies; and technical, financial and equipment assistance being offered by government agencies like DOST, BFAR, and DTI.

Knowledge gained from the forum will help the community enhance awareness regarding fishery products with export potentials, share information with fisherfolk and women to become entrepreneurs and exporters, disseminate information through training, and upgrade enterprises with new technologies. Finally, the forum also came up with some recommendations on how to enhance the export industry for live and frozen fish and fishery products.

Among these were the branding of fishery products, adoption of export and certification requirements by the SMEs, awareness of international product standards, provision of a public plant for processing, improvement in fishery products, participation of SMEs in the forum, and expansion of production.

With this joint activity, SMEs were encouraged to collaborate and link with the key export players and government agencies to ensure the development of the live and frozen fish and fishery products industry.

(This article is edited from the version which appears online at http://www.pcaarrd.dost.gov.ph/home/portal/index.php/quick-informationdispatch/3041-smes-assisted-on-export-of-fish-and-fishery-products)

This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s January 2018 issue.