Frozen tuna imports buoys GenSan’s fish production in H1
GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – Overall fish landing increased by 9% for the first half of this year, boosted largely by a 50% hike in imported frozen tuna landings, data released by the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority (PFDA) showed.
The bulk of landings at the fishing port complex in Tambler, General Santos City in the first semester this year came from the 72,875.01 metric tons (MT) of imported frozen tuna, which registered a hefty 50% spike over last year’s 48,464.62 frozen imports.
The imported frozen tuna already represented 63% of the total landings for the first half of the current year, also up from 46% over the same period in 2014.
At least 90% of total fish landings here are tuna and tuna-like species.
The volume of fish landings went up 114,939.74 MT from January to June this year, up by 10,628.81 MT compared to the 104,310.93 MT landings over the same period in 2014.
Overall local production though went down 33% from 55,846.31 MT in 2014 to only 42,064.73 MT this year – a drop of 13,781.58 MT. All figures are for the first 6 months of the covered period.
The largest decline was registered at Market 3 of the country’s premier tuna center where landings plunged to 14,509.12 MT compared to last year’s 21,858.93 MT.
General Santos City is believed to produce 65% of the country’s total annual tuna catch. (READ: Gensan no longer PH’s tuna capital?)
The prolonged dry season in the last quarter of 2014, which extended until April this year affected the fish landings, said PFDA manager for General Santos City fish port Custodio Balaoing Jr.
But industry sources said the combined Indonesian restriction on foreign fishing vessels in their territorial waters and global decline in tuna catch are turning out to be the major factors in the drop of Philippine tuna production.
Local fishermen here likewise said Indonesia’s renewed crackdown on illegal fishing has affected local tuna landings.
On May 20 this year, 11 Filipino fishing boats were sunk by Indonesian authorities, together with 30 other foreign fishing vessels that were caught illegally fishing in Indonesian waters. (READ: Indonesia sinks 41 foreign boats to deter illegal fishing)
Most of the Filipino fishing vessels were single-engine outrigger boats engaged in handline tuna fishing.
In February, the Indonesian consular office in Davao City reportedly served notice to the local fishing federation here that they are on the lookout for Indonesian-flagged vessels to verify reports their catch were being unloaded in General Santos.
Only last week, 17 Filipino fishermen were repatriated after spending two years in Indonesian prisons. In February, 43 Filipino fishermen were also sent back home after 6 months in jail for also fishing illegally in Indonesia. – Rappler.com
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