The Philippines, With More Than 7,100 Islands, Is Importing More Fish

(Bloomberg) -- The Philippines, among the top 10 producers of fish globally, is preparing to import anew to contain food prices that pushed inflation to the fastest in almost a decade last year.

Overseas purchases of “galunggong” or round scad that’s popular in the Philippines as the poor man’s fish, will start as early as the second quarter to ensure supply during the lean season beginning October, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Director Eduardo Gongona told reporters in Manila. Imports will also include other fish varieties, he said.

The Philippines, which has more than 7,100 islands between the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean, was the eighth largest fish producer in 2016 and accounted for about 2 percent of total output, according to the bureau’s latest data. A three-month fishing ban imposed annually, usually starting November, to allow the fish to breed limits supply.

Inflation accelerated to a nine-year high of 6.7 percent in October due to higher food costs, with fish surpassing other items. The price of fish -- the third heaviest in the food basket -- climbed to 9.9 percent last month. While the price gains eased from 12.5 percent in November, it still outpaced rice and meat inflation, according to the statistics agency.

The nation imported as much as 17,000 metric tons of round scad last year, mostly from China and Vietnam.

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