GenSan hosts 8th tuna congress next week

Bayani Fredeluces, executive director of the Socsksargen Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries, Inc., said the congress on September 1 and 2 is expected to gather some 300 local and foreign players here in this ‘Tuna Capital of the Philippines.’

This city hosts six of the country’s eight tuna canneries, as well as a modern, sprawling fish port complex.

This year’s congress theme is “Quality and Sustainability: Key to Competitive Philippine Tuna Industry.”

Last year’s theme was “Sailing the New Pacific: New Regime, New Challenges, New Opportunities.”

The congress is sponsored by the Growth with Equity in Mindanao, a United States Agency for International Development-funded program, the city government and the first congressional district of South Cotabato.

Agriculture Sec. Antonio Panganiban and Senator Ramon Magsaysay, Jr., Senate committee chairman on agriculture, will grace the affair.

Resource speakers will talk, among others, about situation and outlook for the Philippine tuna industry, global view of tuna resources, tuna trade and quality issues.

Local industry players here have been improving their facilities since last year to meet stringent policies in the huge European market.

European food experts are set to inspect the facilities of tuna players here before the end of the year.  Their visit has been canceled twice, apparently to give the players enough time to meet the requirements.

The European Union accounts for roughly 40% of the country’s exports of fresh and canned tuna valued to be not less than $100 million annually.

Marfenio Tan, president of the Socsksargen Federation, said passing the inspection would boost export revenues in the vast European market.

“We are confident of getting the nod of the European inspectors when they visit us. We have upgraded our facilities and operations to meet rigid world standards,” he said. 

To be globally competitive,  he said, they went through fish enhancement training programs on Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point, Good Manufacturing Practices, and Sanitation Standard Operating Procedure.

The Philippines annually produces approximately 400,000 metric tons of tuna with a value of P18 billion (about $330 million), of which about 85% (roughly P15 billion or $280 million) is exported to various regions, including Japan, the US, and Europe, according to the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

The tuna industry provides direct and indirect employment to at least 100,000 fisherfolk, laborers and factory workers, located, for the most part, in the South Cotabato-Sarangani-General Santos and Davao regions. (MindaNews)