The volume of unloadings fo tuna at General Santos City fell last year. (Photo: Stock File)
Tuna landings fell in 2011
Wednesday, February 01, 2012, 23:30 (GMT + 9)
Frozen tuna landings in 2011 dropped by about 19 per cent at the fish port complex of General Santos City as a result of climbing fuel costs and a standing ban on purse seine fishing in some areas of the Pacific Ocean, according to preliminary data from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS).
In 2010, the unloaded volume in General Santos City stood at 144,812 tonnes and it fell to 117,315 tonnes in 2011.
“The closure of [pockets of the] high seas as imposed by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) on its member countries to replenish stocks of the highly migratory tuna species... was another contributing factor to the output reduction”, said the annual report.
The change was also attributed to factors such as dry-docking of some commercial vessels for repair or maintenance and fewer fishing expeditions due to bad weather, Business World reports.
The Tuna Canners Association of the Philippines last year said it worried that reduced production might push up the prices of end products such as canned tuna.
The WCPFC ban on purse-seine fishing in the western and eastern parts of the Pacific Ocean implemented on 1 January 2010 allowed foreign fishing vessels to dominate the unloading of frozen tuna at the fish port complex. The ban was supposed to last only two years but is still in effect after a meeting that would have discussed the matter last month was cancelled and postponed until March.
Local tuna fishing companies say they cannot afford to venture to farther fishing grounds. The ban has thus left thousands of workers in the tuna industry unemployed, said the regional labour and employment office.
Pocket one covers Palau, Micronesia, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia -- the areas closest to the Philippines where local tuna fishing firms frequently operate. Pocket two spans the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Tuvalu, Nauru, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Papua New Guinea and parts of Kiribati.
However, the ban does not cover hand-line fishing, a method that uses the traditional hook and line.
Asis G Perez, director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), said that a permanent Philippine team was put together last year to look after the interests of the country's agenda in the WCPFC and push to have the ban on purse seine fishing in the Pacific Ocean lifted. The team is made up of representatives from the departments of Agriculture, Foreign Affairs, and Trade and Industry, as well as the Mindanao Development Authority and the fishing industry.
In 2011, the total volume of fisheries output was 3.47 per cent lower than in 2010. Commercial fisheries production took a 16.29 per cent dive and municipal fisheries saw production fall by 2.84 per cent.
Conversely, aquaculture output grew by 2.44 per cent.
- Govt working to have tuna ban lifted
By Natalia Real