Tuna festival opens in GenSan

Street dancers clad in colorful costumes with tuna themes bopped to the beat
of drum, lyres and other musical instruments.

Mayor Pedro Acharon acknowledged the contribution of the tuna industry as he appealed for ocean conservation to protect the industry that enabled this city to land in the national and international market maps.

He called on industry players to pursue environmental governance projects to conserve dwindling marine resources that are the lifeblood of the industry.

“The tuna industry has contributed a lot in improving the economy of the locality. It is but proper to fete it with honor,” the mayor said in a speech at the city oval plaza where tents offering various merchandises have risen.

“I thank the tuna and fisheries related investors for locating in our city,” he added.

This year is the 8th Tuna festival that would culminate on September 5, the 38th charter anniversary of the city.

No prominent national figures, however, graced Sunday’s opening ceremonies, unlike in the past years.

Roads surrounding the oval plaza were closed to traffic to give way to the activities. Uniformed police and military personnel were highly visible due to lingering terror threats to the area. Bomb sniffing dogs swept the periphery for explosives.

Acharon called for public vigilance against any acts of terrorism that might be committed during the festival to avoid spoiling the upbeat mood. 

Senior Supt. Alfredo Toroctocon, city police chief, called on the public to cooperate in security checks in a bid to curtail untoward incidents.

”We have heightened our security and we hope nothing bad will happen in the duration of the festival,” the police official said.

The highlight of this year’s festival will be the tuna congress, an event expected to gather hundreds of key tuna industry players in the country and abroad.

Slated on September 1 and 2, this year’s congress is themed “Quality and Sustainability: Key to Competitive Philippine Tuna Industry.”

Agriculture Secretary Domingo Panganiban and Sen. Ramon Magsaysay, chair of
the Senate committee on agriculture, will be the key guests in the opening ceremonies.

The Philippines annually produces approximately 400,000 metric tons of tuna with a value of P18 billion (about $330 million), of which about 85 percent (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 bulk of tuna production takes place in this city, which is dubbed the “Tuna Capital of the Philippines.”

The local tuna industry here provides direct and indirect employment to at least 100,000 fisherfolk, laborers and factory workers.

Six of the country’s eight tuna canneries are based in this city. (MindaNews)