Tuna stakeholders to gather in GenSan to find ways to strengthen industry

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 5 Sep) – Tuna industry stakeholders will gather here on Wednesday to discuss strategies to further strengthen the industry and sustain its competitiveness amid various challenges, among them the dwindling tuna stocks, climate change and economic pressures.

Joaquin Lu, president of the Socsksargen Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries Inc. (SFFAII), said Tuesday such concerns are among the focus of the three-day 2017 National Tuna Congress, which is slated Sept. 6 to 8.

He said around 800 domestic and foreign tuna industry players have confirmed to attend the event, which will be held at the SM City General Santos Trade Halls.

Now on its 19th year, the congress is centered on the theme: “The Philippine Tuna Industry: Responsive. Strengthened. Competitive.”

“This is the industry’s assertion: The Philippine tuna industry is responsive to market developments and trends, strengthened with the collaborative efforts of both the government and industry to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing for a sustainable tuna fishery, and globally competitive through the industry players’ competition, innovation, and enhanced access to information on technologies and markets,” Lu said.

He said the confirmed participants include representatives of fishing companies, logistics and technology suppliers, service providers and industry partners from all from parts of the country and abroad.

Organizers invited Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol as keynote speaker for the opening of the congress’s exhibit on Wednesday, and Senator Cynthia Villar for the closing ceremonies on Friday.

The lined up speakers include DA Undersecretary for Fisheries Eduardo Gongona; Dr. Sungkwon Soh, science manager of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission; Geronimo Silvestre, chief of party of the United States Agency for International Development’s Oceans and Fisheries partnership; Claudette Urmeneta, capability building manager of Verite Southeast Asia; Dr. Marieta Sumagaysay of the National Network on Women in Fisheries in the Philippines, Inc.; and Martin Purves, managing director of the International Pole and Line Foundation.

In a briefer, SFFAAII said the congress will be a venue for stakeholders to discuss issues, concerns and challenges towards efforts to sustain the thriving tuna industry as “one that is responsive, strengthened and competitive.”

It said such goals should be the thrust of the key policy makers, both from the government and the non-government organizations, as well as business leaders and the industry’s labor sector.

“There is no dying tuna industry. Not for the many whose food security is largely dependent on the productivity of the fishing industry, not for the hundreds of thousands of families depending on it to survive and certainly not for the coming generations for whose quality of life we are responsible for,” the group said.

The fishing federation noted that for many years, the tuna fishing industry was beset by a number of challenges “but remained strong and able to produce the needed income for the great number of people dependent on it.”

Industry players have continually improved in terms of fishing management through science-based knowledge and data-analysis, and have established ways to afford more decent working conditions for its labor force.

“This is a cause for a celebration and a call for heightened efforts towards keeping our tuna proliferating and ensuring that our workers, the backbone of this industry, are given a quality life deserving of the toil they have been honestly expending since day one of the making of the world-renowned tuna industry of this country,” it added. (MindaNews)