Category Archives: fishing industry

2014: Banner year for Gensan fish catch

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – Despite widespread anxieties over rapidly declining tuna stocks, 2014 was a banner year for General Santos City as total fish landings at the fishing port complex reached 193,867.55 metric tons (MT), the highest in 12 years.

The 2014 figure was a hefty 14 percent increase over the 167,578.75 MT total catch in 2013.

Approximately 92 percent of the total fish landings in General Santos City are tuna and tuna-like species with more than 80 percent going to the canning and processing plants here.

It is the third consecutive year that fish landings in the city had increased over previous year levels after a significant decline in total catch in 2011 when the total reached only 112,890.81 MT.

The 2011 total landings was the lowest in six years and was likewise 27 percent lower than the previous year total of 143,139.17 MT in 2010.

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Tuna imports

Last year’s total catch was however boosted by frozen tuna landings which reached 92,387.36 MT in 2014 or 47.65 percent of the total landings.

Tuna canneries in General Santos City began importing frozen tuna both from Manila and other foreign origins in 2008 after local tuna catches began to slacken.

Over the last 7 years, 53 percent of the tuna canning requirements have been supplied by frozen tunas coming from Manila (23.38 percent) and from foreign imports (76.62 percent) for a total of 537,491.88 MT from 2008 to 2014.

Without frozen imports, locally produced tuna catch in 2014 (101,480.19MT) still fell short over the 105,690.21 MT landings by local tuna producers in 2007.

Local production dipped at its lowest in 2011 when the catch figure reached only 47,993.66 MT, the lowest since 2003.

yellowfin
Despite declining tuna stocks, 2014 saw a record landings for General Santos City, the country’s Tuna Capital.FOTO BY EDWIN ESPEJO

Declining stocks

The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, which has been monitoring global tuna stocks and data catches, began raising alarms over overfishing of tuna stocks at the turn of the millennium.

In 2009, member countries of WCPFC agreed to a 2-month annual ban on tuna fishing using fish aggregating device.

It expanded the ban to complete ban on purse seine fishing operations in 2 Pockets of High Seas in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean while also extending to 3 months the annual ban on FAD fishing.

The ban on purse seine and FAD fishing operations in the High Seas began in 2010.

In 2012, however, the Philippines was granted 2-year exemption to the ban on purse seine fishing in Pocket 1 High Seas. The exemption has since been extended.

The Philippines is among its 26 member countries and eight member territories in the Western and Central Pacific region.

It is a signatory to several conservation measures including ban on the annual FAD fishing which runs from July to September every year.

WCPF blamed the alarming depletion of tuna stocks to overfishing and climate change.

Local producers and tuna fishing operators also attributed the decline in local catch to increasing protectionism among countries in the tuna-rich WCPFC areas, including neighboring Indonesia which began requiring Filipino fishing operators to invest in processing and manufacturing plants to gain access to its fishing grounds.

Indonesia earlier required Filipino fishing vessels operating in its fishing grounds to hire Indonesian crew.

In 2006, Indonesia opted to terminate its bilateral fishing agreement with the Philippines, sending Filipino fishing operators scrambling for other fishing grounds.

Exodus

It forced several Filipino super seine operators to establish canning and processing plants in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.

Among the general Santos City-based Filipino fishing companies that are now largely operating outside Philippine fishing grounds are RD Fishing and TSP Marine.

Also maintaining operations in Papua New Guinea is Frabelle Fishing, the country’s largest tuna fishing company while Damalerio Fishing is operating in Indonesia.

 

Tuna industry gets boost as EU parliament grants PH GSP+

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – The decision of the European parliament to grant the Philippines GSP+ status will help boost the country’s tuna industry, sources said.

“It will help the tuna industry,” said Richie Rivera, Executive Vice President of RD Group of Companies, holding company of RD Tuna.

Rivera however said the GSP+ status, which lifted tariffs on 6,200 Philippine export products to the European Union, only covered processed and canned tuna products caught by 100-percent Philippine-registered vessels.

“If foreign caught, the GSP+ won’t apply,” Rivera explained.

RD Tuna Ventures has shifted its fishing operations in Papua New Guinea where it also owns a tuna canning plant.

Rivera nevertheless said they are supporting the trade agreement.

Unloading tuna in General Santos City.PHOTO BY EDWIN ESPEJO
Unloading tuna in General Santos City.PHOTO BY EDWIN ESPEJO

Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) director Asis Perez on the other sees an increase in the volume of tuna exports to Europe following the decision of the European Parliament.

“We have not made any actual calculations as yet,” Asis however said.

According to Francisco Buencamino, executive director of the Tuna Canners Association of the Philippines, canned tuna exports to Europe in 2012 reached 3,202,659 cases or 42.5 percent of the country’s export volume of 7,538,093 cases.

The 2012 value of canned tuna exports to Europe reached US$123,295,407 or 44.8 percent of the total US$275,295,399 export receipts of the country.

Industry sources said the inclusion of the Philippines in the EU GSP+ will mean at least additional US$15 million or P660 million in revenues for Philippine tuna exporters.

Increased catch

Overall catch in General Santos for 2014 has already exceeded last year’s total landings.

With the December catch still to be added, the 180,035-metric ton fish landed at the General Santos City Fishing Port Complex this year has already exceeded the 2013 total catch of 167,578.75 metric tons.

Eighty percent of total fish landings in General Santos City are yellow-fin tuna and tuna-like species.

But more than 53 percent of tuna landings in the city are now imported frozen tuna.

Majority of the country’s tuna catch and landing go to the canneries.

Canned and processed Philippine tunas have become a traditional export product of the country with annual export revenues that has now topped the US$350 million mark.

General Santos City is the country’s acknowledged Tuna Capital with six of the country’s 7 tuna canning plant located in the city.

Gensan fish catch on pace to break 2013 total

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – Total volume of fish catch in General Santos in November went down slightly compared to October, according to the data released by the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority (PFDA) here.

But overall catch for 2014 has already exceeded last year’s total landings.

Philippine yellowfin tuna are sought after in upscale Japanese restaurants in Los Angeles.PHOTO BY EDWIN ESPEJO
Philippine yellowfin tuna are sought after in upscale Japanese restaurants in Los Angeles.PHOTO BY EDWIN ESPEJO

With the December catch still to be added, the 180,035.54 metric ton partial total fish landed at the General Santos City Fishing Port Complex this year has already exceeded the 2013 total catch of 167,578.75 metric tons.

More than 80 percent of total fish landings in General Santos City are yellow-fin tuna and tuna-like species.

A total of 15,363.81 metric tons of yellowfin tuna and tuna-like specie were landed at the General Santos City Fishing Port Complex, down from the October total catch of 16,807.44 metric tons.

Counting all fish species, the total fish landing for the month of November also went down to 16,618.29 metric tons from 18,139.17 tons.

Frozen tuna continue to grow as 59.4 percent of the total landings came from foreign as well as Manila-based suppliers.

Foreign vessels unloaded a total of 8,646.39 metric tons at the General Santos City fish port complex.

The remaining 480.4 tons came from Manila-based frozen tuna suppliers.

Total tuna catch this year is on pace to a 6-year high.PHOTO BY EDWIN ESPEJO
Total tuna catch this year is on pace to a 6-year record high.PHOTO BY EDWIN ESPEJO

The Pocket 1 High Seas are closed to tuna fishing every August and September of the year.

Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources director Asis Perez had earlier said Philippine tuna catch will likely increase as more Filipino fishing boats have already returned to the Pocket I High Seas following the 2012 tragedy where more than 372 Filipinos were caught in the eye of Super Typhoon Pablo (Bopha).

Of the 372 Filipino fishermen from General Santos city who were caught in a perfect storm in the high seas ion December 2012, only 18 bodies were recovered.

The rest remain missing and are presumed dead by now.

General Santos is acknowledged as the Tuna Capital of the Philippines.

Six of the country’s 7 operating tuna canning plants are located in the city with over 20,000 workers directly employed by the industry.

Over the last 5 years, total volume of tuna catch has been on the rise following a steep decline in tuna catches in the early 2000s.

This prompted the WCPFC to institute measures to arrest the decline of stocks in the tuna-rich fishing grounds of western and central Pacific Ocean.

Among the measures are 3-month ban on FAD fishing in 2 pockets of high seas in the Pacific Ocean and strict vessel monitoring.

The Philippines was granted exemption in Pocket 1 High Seas in 2011 and started sending catching vessels to the area before Pablo struck in 2012.

Filipino tuna fishing operators resumed operating in the area last year.

Tuna industry robust on PH inclusion in EU GSP+

A possible inclusion in the European Union generalized system of preferences plus (GSP+) will provide the Philippine tuna industry the much needed shot in the arm, according to the Department of Agriculture.

Inclusion in the list of GSP+ countries will mean lifting of the tariffs on hundreds of export products from the Philippines, including canned tuna.

“With GSP+, we hope to improve our share of EU’s fresh and processed tuna market as it will give our products a better fighting chance,” said Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala.

At present, tuna exports to the European market are subject to 20.5% duties while tuna exports from competitor countries such as African, Caribbean and Pacific countries have been enjoying a zero tariff.

Workers at a Philippine tuna canning plant.PIC BY EDWIN ESPEJO
Workers at a Philippine tuna canning plant.PIC BY EDWIN ESPEJO

According to Francisco Buencamino, executive director of the Tuna Canners Association of the Philippines, canned tuna exports to Europe in 2012 reached 3,202,659 cases or 42.5 percent of the country’s export volume of 7,538,093 cases.

The value of canned tuna exports to Europe reached US$123,295,407 or 44.8 percent of the total US$275,295,399 export receipts of the country.

“In terms of availment, there is no doubt that GSP+ will increase capacity utilization of canned tuna processing capacity, now estimated only to be about 55%-60% of daily capacity of +1,300 tons per day,” Buencamino said in the 15th National Tuna congress last year.

Industry sources said the inclusion of the Philippines in the EU GSP+ will mean at least additional US$15 million in export revenues or P660 million.

Department of Trade and Industry Undersecretary Adrian S. Cristobal Jr. recently reported that the European Union has posed no objection into the application of the Philippines to be included the list of beneficiary countries of the EU’s GSP+ system of tariff preferences.

The application is now reportedly headed to the European Parliament for deliberation.
The Philippines must however continue to observe and comply with 27 specified international conventions in the fields of core human and labour right, the environment and good governance.

It must also strictly follow ratified conventions by the world tuna governing body – the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.

Among them is traceability and HACCP compliance.

Industry sources from the local tuna industry said the lifting of tariffs and duties on Philippine tuna export to EU could come as early as the second of next year.

“Definitely, this will be a big boon to the tuna industry which has seen the tapering down of growth in the last decade,” the source who requested that his name be withheld.

The source said the industry must face strong lobby from tuna-producing countries in Europe who are likely to resist the inclusion of the Philippines in the EU GSP+