Fee on tuna export slashed

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/12 Sept) – The Department of Agriculture has reduced the export fee on tuna from 3 to 0.2 percent to help shore up the ailing tuna industry.

In a statement, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said on Sunday the Socsksargen Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries, Inc. (SFFAII) recently proposed the reduction as the tuna industry grapple with an international fishing ban in pockets of the Pacific Ocean.

Alcala approved the amendment of Fisheries Administrative Order (FAO) 233 issued in 2010, which stipulates fees for the issuance of export/re-export permits equivalent to 3 percent of the export value.

The previous 3-percent export fee was an additional burden and a disincentive for exporters, unduly increasing the prices of tuna products and thus making them less competitive in the world market, SFFAII said.

“The measure was counterproductive and inconsistent with the thrust of the government to promote exports,” said Marfenio Tan, outgoing SFFAII chairman.

The National Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (NFARMC) initially promulgated FAO 233, in keeping with the intent of Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001. The NFARMC is a multi-sectoral, advisory group under the supervision of the DA-BFAR.

Among other major tasks, it conducts national consultations to craft needed policies for the protection, conservation, sustainable development and management of the country’s fisheries and aquatic resources. The recommended policies are then sent to the DA Secretary for consideration and approval.

During its July 22, 2011 meeting, the NFARMC, upon consultations with tuna industry stakeholders, approved the recommendation to reduce the 3-percent export fee for captured aquatic wildlife like tuna.

Sixty percent of the country’s tuna catch is unloaded at General Santos City, the “Tuna Capital of the Philippines.”

The tuna industry is presently facing hard times as a result of a ban on fishing in the high seas imposed by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) since January 1, 2010.

It will end this December, just as Indonesia will start to impose stricter fishing measures seen to have an impact on the Philippine tuna industry.

Last year, the country’s tuna production totaled 387,101 metric tons (MT), which was 9 percent less than in 2008. Of the total, commercial fish catch accounted for 70 percent or 271,625 MT, 14 percent less than in 2008, SFFAII data showed.

In 2010, the total value of commercial fish production was placed at P17 billion, of which P10.7 billion (or 63 percent) was contributed by the SOCSKSARGEN region.

Total tuna exports in 2010 was valued at US$359.4 million (roughly P15.45 billion at $1=P43).

Of the total volume, about 70 percent was in canned form (76,800MT), and the rest (33,688MT) was either fresh, chilled or frozen.

Canned tuna exports in 2010 dropped by 8 percent compared to 2009 figures, the SFFAII said. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)