Davaoeños to export lapu-lapu to Xiamen

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) – Exporters from Davao are entering into a deal with grouper fish importers from China, which would tap thousands of fishermen within the Davao Gulf, a business leader said on Tuesday, September 19.

Domingo Ang, the businessman behind the First International Tuna Transhipment Port, said importers from Xiamen are preparing to ship 100,000 grouper fry for fishermen in Davao.

"We're just waiting for final documentation between BFAR (Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources) and the China [Bureau] of Fisheries," Ang told Rappler in a text message.

The shipment of newly-hatched grouper or lapu-lapu fishes from China is needed to begin the mass cultivation in the said gulf, where a fishing ban was implemented two years ago due to a decline in fish population.

Once the fish have become fully-grown and have reproduced, they will be exported back to Xiamen, where the market price of the said commodity hovers at around P3,000 per kilo, according to Ang.

Ang, also the chairperson of the Philippine Exporters Confederation Incorporated, said the Xiamen importers see potential in Davao, since there are flights between the two cities.

Partnership with AirAsia?

In 2016, Xiamen Airlines launched a test direct flight from Xiamen to the Francisco Bangoy International Airport in Davao, flying 80 passengers. It was followed by another flight in October this year, but it was discontinued.

But Ang said that even if future flights would carry little passengers, the shipment of grouper fish from Davao “will sustain its operations.” He estimated that an aircraft could lift 10-15 tons of grouper fishes.

Ang did not disclose whether the partnership would use Xiamen Airlines as its freight service provider, but hinted at the possibility that AirAsia Philippines might be tapped.

"I have talked to [AirAsia chief executive officer] Tony Fernandes [about] this," he said.

Xiamen is a huge importer of grouper fish worldwide. Research provider Seair Exim Solutions revealed that between September and November 2016 alone, China imported 14.51 tons of grouper fish from India, with a total value of $73,299.08. – Rappler.com