The project completion is eight months delayed. Earlier, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said it was going to be completed by May last year.
Industry players expect exports to the European Union to increase significantly since the fish port’s expansion is in sync with the sanitation and handling requirements set by the 25-member states.
Miguel Lamberte, Jr., fish port manager, said they have not received the official feedback of the EU inspection team although he initially disclosed the inspectors gave a favorable review following their visit here last October.
“Within the first quarter of this year, the new 1,500-metric ton cold storage facility will be operational. In the second quarter, we’re expecting]the partial operation of the wharves,” Lamberte said.
Expansion projects at the fishport started in June 2005 involving the construction of two wharves measuring 500 meters, a 1,5000 metric ton capacity cold storage facility, a wastewater treatment plant and a power substation, as well as the installation of a port-handling equipment, said Dureza.
The funding for the projects was sourced from the loan agreement between the Department of Finance (DOF) and the China National Constructional and Agricultural Machinery Import/Export Corporation (CAMC).
The Project Management Office, under the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority of the Department of Agriculture, is handling the fish port expansion project.
Lamberte earlier expressed optimism the fish port and other tuna production chain would be able to pass the scrutiny of the European inspectors.
Mayor Pedro Acharon Jr. echoed Lamberte’s statement, adding he had seen the “favorable reactions” of European inspectors.
"They commented favorably especially after seeing the improvement in physical, infrastructure and good manufacturing practices inside the fish port complex and tuna canneries," he said.
Acharon said Europe’s approval of the city's application for accreditation would further boost the local tuna industry in this “Tuna Capital of the Philippines.” The city is dubbed such as it hosts six of the country’s eight tuna canneries.
Marfenio Tan, president of the Socsksargen Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries, Inc., also expressed confidence in passing the inspection of the European Union, which is one of the major markets of fresh and canned tuna products from this city.
Tan said the tuna players have embarked on fish quality enhancement initiatives such as the conduct of trainings on Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point, Good Manufacturing Practices and Sanitation Standard Operating Procedure ahead of the European inspectors’ arrival.
The European Union accounts for roughly 40% of the country's exports of fresh and canned tuna, industry records show.
In 2004, Tan said fresh and canned tuna processors here alone exported approximately 64,000 tons to European markets with a value of at least $110 million.
The Philippines annually produces approximately 400,000 metric tons of tuna with a value of P18 billion (some $330 million), about 85% of which (roughly P15 billion or $280 million) is exported to various regions, including Japan, United States and Europe, data from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources shows.
The tuna industry provides direct and indirect employment to at least 100,000 fisherfolk, laborers and factory workers, located, for the most part, in this region. (MindaNews)