Local fish catch up but overall landings down


GENERAL SANTOS CITY – Local tuna catch has risen during the first half this year but overall fish landings dropped by 11 percent, according to the data from the Philippine Fishport Development Authority office here.

The decline in the overall fish landing at the fishport complex in Tambler was triggered by a 42 percent decline in frozen tuna imports from January to June this year over the same period last year.

Philippine tuna catch is having a down year in 2015, a global trend, prompting producers to seek greater regional cooperation. PHOTO BY EDWIN ESPEJO
Philippine local tuna catch is up this year but overall landings are down.PHOTO BY EDWIN ESPEJO

Frozen tuna imports was anemic at 51,273,208 metric tons (MT) during the first half this year compared to 72,875,010 MT over the same period last year, or a drop of 21,600 MT.

The drop in frozen tuna erased the 23 percent spike in local fish catch during the same period.

Total local catch went up from 42,064 MT from January to June 2015 to 52,299 MT in the first half this year, bringing the overall fish landing at 103,572 MT for the period, down from last year’s record 114,939 MT catch.

jan-june tuna landings

General Santos City fishport manager in Luisito-Romeo Correa, speaking through his spokesperson said the decline is attributed to the low demand of tuna canneries for frozen raw materials.

The decline in imports also brought the percentage of frozen tuna landings to 49.5, a significant drop from last year’s figure of 63.4 percent of total fish landings at the fishing port complex.

But Correa said he expects tuna fish landings to pick up in the second half.

“The vessel arrivals and unloading of frozen tuna have already picked up in June,” he said in a text message.

Frozen tuna imports last month (June) was at 13,979 metric tons, 27 percent of the total for the first semester of this so far.

An industry source who declined to be named said they are looking closely to the current situation and development in the European Union following the exit of United Kingdom.

The source also added that buyers still have full inventory but they expect the demand to increase I the second of this year.

Another development the local tuna industry is keeping an eye on is the landings in Thailand, the country’s main rival in canned tuna production.

“There is a major shift in brands in the EU.  More and more Bangkok giants (Thailand canneries) are buying brands to add to their already dominance in world canned tuna production,” the source further added.

More than 85 percent of fish landings in General Santos City are tuna and tuna-like species of which almost 65 percent goes to canned tuna production.

Frozen tuna imports are exclusively for canned tuna processing.

In defense of Mocha and the Dutertards

The phenomenal rise and eventual dominance of the digital warriors of then presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte during the campaign period have dramatically altered the political horizon and left many debating whether or not the social media has supplanted the primordial role of traditional media and is now the primary medium of communication and information.

With over 42 million Facebook and 6 million Twitter accounts and handles crowding the digital space in the country, their potentials as shapers of public opinions and platforms for campaigns and mobilizations are limitless, not bounded by time and more importantly cost effective.

Social media influencer Mocha (middle), whose father-judge was slain by gunmen, is one of the avid supporters of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.PHOTO BY EDWIN ESPEJO
Social media influencer Mocha (middle), whose father-judge was slain by gunmen, is one of the avid supporters of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.PHOTO BY EDWIN ESPEJO

This phenomenon however has also triggered the rise of passionate and partisan debates and discourses between and among those who are actively engaged in the digital world. To sum up: very much welcome to many, worrisome to not a few.

The 2016 elections gave the digital space and the social media unprecedented leverage and influence that many are admitting they may have made and unmade a president.

When before TV, radio and print media dominated as popular platforms for information, social media has risen to become their fierce competitors this time.

Where traditional media are governed by deadlines, prime times and distribution, social media are accessed in real time, anywhere and in any place where there is internet connection.

Many traditional mass media have adapted to the rapidly changing technologies in the digital world.  They have invaded the digital space by putting up their online versions.  But they are always, to a large extent, ‘controlled’ and editor/desk-centric  and the influence of their publishers and owners continues to be felt.  Their news is, by and large, filtered through the process of a newsroom.  It is bereft of the interactivity of the social media where the ‘netizens’ become their own journalists, reporters and opinion makers.

The rise of social media forces was also attended by their eagerness to vent ire and give space to stories and opinions not carried and often too glaringly ignored by the traditional media.

Initially given little credit, social media became the alternative ‘news source’ the way the ‘xerox’ and ‘mosquito’ press were during the dying days of the unlamented Marcos dictatorship.

In the case of President Rodrigo Duterte, his followers were soon labeled as Dutertards – being the most widespread, passionate and engaged among supporters of presidential candidates.

The word Dutertards was initially meant as Duterte diehards but the label was later given a pejorative twist – retards.

The Duterte camp said its digital army under the sphere of influence of Mugstoria alone has a reach span of 14 million account owners, pages and communities.

Mugstoria became the tool for organizing the Bisaya Napud, one of the most vociferous campaign groups of candidate Duterte.

Impassioned as they were, the diehards of candidate Duterte became both the boon and the bane in the 2016 presidential campaign.

They provided the platform to generate the desired bandwagon effect by airing and showing the growing multitude attending the rallies and sorties of candidate Duterte which were largely ignored if not deliberately downplayed by the traditional mass media.

Their posts, blogs, memes and vines bordered on the passionate to personal, from intellectually stimulating to downright threatening.  But nobody got away with hitting candidate Duterte without getting bashed, bullied and pilloried.  To the non-Duterte supporters, they were the personification of their candidate who they pictured as brass, crass and uncouth.

Many non-Duterte supporters however did not see this, or chose to ignore the rise of social and digital netizens, as a necessary cause and effect of the failures of the traditional mass media.

So when social media influencers like Mocha Uson posted an apparent exclusive interview of the president who shunned the media after a section of the press threatened to boycott him, many rose up to say one interview does not make a journalist.

They were right but also they were wrong.

In fairness, Mocha Uson did not pass herself as a journalist.  But her feat proved social media influencers can serve as a powerful medium to send messages across.

For that matter, the mass media is now hard pressed to be creative, be sensitive and to rise beyond their biases and prejudices lest they find themselves lumped with the discredited past governments.

And mercifully, be suspected as protecting particular interests – not the least the targets of the campaign of the Duterte administration against crime and corruption.

That is one additional positive of the contribution of the digital and social media in the arena of news and information – citizen participation.