EU inspectors arrive for 10-day tour of tuna firms

The inspection is part of the requirements set by the EU for the accreditation of tuna exports from the city.


Rodolfo Paz, general manager of the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority (PFDA), said the European inspectors will inspect the entire production chain of the local tuna industry.


“It will involve all aspects of the entire chain or from the unloading of the tuna catch by the fishing vessels to processing and its transport to the markets,” he said.


The EU inspection team, which is led by Dr. Luca Farina, initially met with officials of the PFDA, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and local tuna industry players at the fish port complex here.


The team then proceeded to the plant site of the Alliance Tuna Corporation, a company jointly owned Filipino and Thai investors, to inspect its cannery operations and processing facilities.


The EU team is slated to inspect the operations and facilities of the fish port, which is managed by PFDA, on Wednesday and Thursday.


Paz said the inspectors will determine if the local tuna industry has properly complied with the food handling safety standards.

As early as last year, the PFDA had implemented the Good Manufacturing Practice-Standard Sanitation Operating Principle (GMP-SSOP) food safety principle in preparation for the EU inspection.


Paz said PFDA, a government owned corporation, earlier set up a Quality Assurance Unit Team to protect food supply from microbial, chemical, and physical hazards that may occur during stages of production.


PFDA is also keeping track of SSOP in harbor operations and market operations at fish port complex.


Marfenio Tan, president of the Socsksargen Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries Inc., said he is confident that the local tuna industry would pass the EU inspection, which is seen to boost local export revenues in the vast European market.


"We have been prepared for this inspection. We have properly upgraded our facilities and operations based on international standards," Tan said.


Local tuna processing firms and fishing companies underwent a series of trainings on fish handling and production standards such as Good Manufacturing Practices and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP).


The European Union accounts for roughly 40 percent of the country's exports of fresh and canned tuna, industry records show.


In 2004, Tan said, that fresh and canned tuna processors here alone exported approximately 64,000 tons to European markets with a value of at least $110 million.


Records from BFAR showed that the Philippines annual tuna production is approximately 400,000 metric tons of tuna with a value of P18 billion (some $330 million), about 85 percent of which (roughly P15 billion or $280 million) is exported to various regions, including Japan, United States and Europe.