4-day closure of GenSan fishport to incur P300-million revenue loss

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 1 Sep) – Fishing and allied industries here will be losing around P300 million in revenues with the implementation of the four-day partial lockdown of the city fishport complex starting Wednesday, Sept. 2, due to the rising coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases.

Busy day at the GenSan fishport. MindaNews file photo by BONG S. SARMIENTO

Rosanna Bernadette Contreras, executive director of the Soccsksargen Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries Inc. (SFFAII), said such figure was based on the projected combined income of the industry during the period.

She cited that last year, the industry contributed around P420 million to the local economy on a weekly basis.

Due to the situation, Contreras said they lobbied with the city government to set the partial closure of the fishport in Barangay Tambler to four days instead of seven to minimize the potential economic losses.

The local government announced on Monday the lockdown of markets 1 to 3 of the fishport from Sept. 2 to 5 to facilitate the conduct of decontamination and massive contract-tracing activities for confirmed COVID-19 cases that were traced to have had exposure at the facility.

The closure was the first for the fishport, which cater to thousands of workers and traders on a daily basis, since it opened in 1997.

“We’re hoping that the full contact-tracing and related activities will be completed as scheduled so we can avoid further losses,” Contreras said in a radio interview.

She said SFFAII is currently assisting the local government and the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority (PFDA), which manages the fishport, in preparing concerned stakeholders for the lockdown.

This include the creation of the Barangay or Fishport COVID Control Force, which will be composed of representatives from companies operating at the facility, the city police, City Health Office and Barangay Tambler officials and volunteers.

Contreras admitted that the situation at the fishport is currently a major challenge, especially in terms of the implementation of health protocols like the wearing of face mask and face shield, and the observance of safe physical distancing.

Based on the PFDA’s data, she said the 32-hectare fishport hosts over 3,000 workers and a substantial number of buyers and fishermen also gather daily in its markets and port area.

She said that scenario could have contributed to the spread of COVID-19, which was confirmed to have infected some local workers and buyers coming from other areas.

“There are many challenges that should be addressed and we need to have extensive dialogues to come up with effective control measures to stop the spread of the disease,” she added. (MindaNews)