21st National Tuna Congress
Around 700 domestic and foreign tuna industry stakeholders, non-government groups, as well as officials and representatives of various government agencies including the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) - Caraga headed by regional director Visa Tan-Dimerin participated in the 21st National Tuna Congress held at SM Trade Halls in General Santos City on September 4-6, 2019.
The gathering, which was led by the Socsksargen Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries Inc. (SFFAII) under the theme, "The Tuna Industry: Embracing Technologies and Sustainable Strategies," pushed for the adoption of more technologies to further improve the operations of the tuna fishing industry to make it more competitive, and to support the government's goal in promoting a sustainable and managed tuna fishery through the use of processes to achieve full efficiency while being ocean-friendly.
Joaquin Lu, president of SFFAII said Tuesday that the sustainability of tuna resources can only be achieved if conservation and management measures are observed.
“Sustainability means no overfishing, and that we should promote an environment for tuna and tuna-like species to spawn and propagate for another season of catch,” Lu added.
Meanwhile, Department of Agriculture Secretary William Dar stressed in his keynote speech the importance of nurturing the development of the tuna industry and the fisheries sector as a whole, to lay down a strong foundation, and to envision for a food secure Philippines.
"Don't forget the other players of the tuna industry. I'd like to see the fisherfolk to be prosperous," the DA secretary said.
"We need to sustain and elevate the tuna industry by (1) modernizing every aspect of the fisheries sector, (2) using sustainable technologies to protect our seas, (3) developing export strategies and pursuing value adding, processing and manufacturing in order to compete with the world, (4) implementing fishery laws of the land, and (5) refleeting to elevate the game," according to Sec. Dar in his message.
The three-day event tackled electronic monitoring, surveillance and control system; catch documentation and traceability technology solutions; emerging technologies for processors; and commodity, market and stock assessment.
The closing ceremonies highlighted the updates of the 20th Tuna Congress Resolutions and ceremonial turnover of 21st Tuna Congress Resolutions that is strongly requesting for both Houses of Congress to expedite the passage of the law creating the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, another resolution requesting BFAR to review the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 9379 otherwise knows as the Handline Fishing Law of 2007, and the resolution requesting the Department of Agriculture (DA) through BFAR to allocate P20 million in 2021 budget for the upgrading of the capabilities of BFAR Regional Fisheries Laboratory and to support the study for a one-stop shop Regional Fisheries Laboratory facility in General Santos City, among others.
SFFAII is an umbrella organization of seven associations. It involves over 100 companies involved in fishing, canning, fish processing, aquaculture production & processing and other allied industries.
General Santos City is dubbed as the “Tuna Capital of the Philippines.” It hosts six of the country’s eight tuna canneries. And the tuna congress is among the highlights of the city’s 2019 Tuna Festival.