Dar urges local tuna industry to upgrade, modernize fishing fleet
The Department of Agriculture secretary William D. Dar identified ‘refleeting’ as the best option to make the country’s commercial fishing sector globally competitive as he discussed specific strategies on how the tuna industry can further elevate its game, during the 21st National Tuna Congress and Trade Exhibit, in General Santos City.
“Technologies and innovations will propel the sector to a higher level. If you don’t use the most appropriate and sustainable technologies of today, the level of productivity that we so desire, will be far-fetched,” Dar said emphasizing that big fleets with modern processing and canning facilities will provide a great advantage to the fishing industry.
In 2018, the total volume of fisheries production was estimated at 4.35 million metric tons (MMT), 0.92 percent higher than its previous year’s level of 4.31 MMT. Particularly, the volume of yellowfin tuna production add up to 94,180 MT, roughly 12 percent less than the total output of 106,920 thousand MT in 2017.
“Fishery is such a high-value sector that it is imperative we put our hearts and minds together to nurture and further the development of the tuna industry,” said Dar.
Despite the hurdles faced by the fishing industry, Dar said that the Philippines remains as one of the top tuna producers in the world and one of the largest exporters of processed tuna. Currently, the Philippines is the leading tuna exporter in the European Union, mainly Germany and UK. About 38 percent of the total national marine tuna lands in South Cotabato of which General Santos, the “Tuna Capital of the Philippines” is located.
Hence, he directed the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to work with banking institutions like Land Bank of the Philippines and Development Bank of the Philippines to explore lending windows for refleeting of current commercial fishing vessels in support to the tuna industry
Aside from refleeting, Dar enumerated other strategies to sustain the tuna industry. These include: 1) fishery industrialization; 2) promotion of fishery exports; 3) consolidation of small- and medium-sized fish farms; 4) infrastructure development; 5) higher budget and investment for Philippine fisheries; 6) legislative support; and 7) commercial fishery roadmap development.