Improving quality is focus in Tuna Congress in GenSan

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 3 Sept) – Around 500 tuna industry players will gather here on Thursday to discuss fresh strategies on further improving the competitiveness of the country’s tuna exports in the expanding global markets.

Joaquin Lu, president of the Socksargen Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries, Inc. (SFFAII), said Wednesday this year’s two-day National Tuna Congress will mainly center on “bringing the Philippine Tuna to greater heights and making quality the forefront of trade strategy.”

He said the industry needs to rationalize its efforts so it could properly compete in the existing and emerging tuna export markets.

“International markets continue to influence each other, supply chains continue to grow increasingly international in scope, and more and more are required to consider and align to different standards. Today’s global climate brings both challenges and opportunities, and in the face of both, we must continue and strengthen our resolve for a more and competitive Philippine Tuna,” Lu said.

Now on its 16th year, the congress carries the theme “Shared Resources, Shared Responsibility” and will be held at the SM General Santos Trade Hall.

SFFAII, which is the main organizer of the tuna congress, has invited foreign fishery officials, experts and tuna players to join the congress that is supported by the city government of General Santos and other government and private entities.

Lu said this year’s conference theme is very timely “to scale up our cause – to harness local or regional efforts and foster a single, collective and global strategy; to align our plans and specific steps with internationally recognized programs; and to be more ambitious and ensure that what we do now in the preservation of our marine resources can be passed and enjoyed by many generations to come.”

“Reaching a global scale of tuna fishery management is indeed daunting for it would require more than getting comprehensive and scientific studies into gear, or innovating more profitable business plans, or even laying down new policies and regulations towards conserving our tuna stock,” he noted.

Lu, who is also the conference chairperson, said the gathering will feature keynote speakers “who are eager to inspire participants of how quality has been successful through the years, present latest methodologies, and will connect industry players nationwide.”

It will bring a forum of ideas and a network of thought leaders, experts, and peers eager to share the best practices, market updates, tested solutions and proven results, he said.

Rosanna Bernadette Contreras, SFFAII executive director, said Senator Cynthia Villar, who chairs the Senate committee on agriculture and food, will keynote the congress’ opening on Thursday afternoon.

Among the speakers who have confirmed are Gil Herico, the Philippine agriculture attache to the United Arab Emirates; Dr. Ir. Santoso, Director General-Fisheries Product Processing and Marketing, Ministry of Marine and Fisheries of the Republic of Indonesia; Dr. Chumnarn Pongsri, Secretary-General of the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center; Keith Bigelow, fisheries scientist of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)-United States Department of Commerce; and Director Asis Perez of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala has confirmed to attend the congress’ closing ceremony, which will be highlighted by the presentation of conference resolutions to the national government.

Major topics that will be discussed in the congress include the market prospects of halal tuna in the Middle East; developments in Indonesia’s tuna fishing industry; tuna handlining in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean; tuna fishery and climate change; ASEAN regional approach to sustainable growth; and the impact of ASEAN integration to the Asian tuna trade.

Dubbed the country’s “tuna capital,” this city has hosted the National Tuna Congress since it was first staged 15 years ago.

The city hosts six of the country’s seven tuna canneries and other related ventures that generate an average of nearly US$ 300 million in annual export receipts.