Fishing is a PhP50 billion industry in the Philippines, contributing about 4% of the country’s GNP. With an annual production volume of 2.4 million metric tons of fish, it directly provides livelihood and employment to over one million Filipinos. Tuna is among the 200 or so species of fish found in the Philippines that have high commercial value. The Philippines ranks 7th among the top tuna producing countries in the world, both in terms of fresh/frozen tuna and canned tuna. In terms of canned tuna export in the world, the Philippines ranks second after Thailand. In 2006, the country’s tuna production amounted to 500,000 tons, about 10% of the world’s total production. The world catch was pegged at 4 million tons. As early as 1970, General Santos City has been tagged as the “Tuna Capital of the Philippines”. The total daily catch of adult and juvenile tuna unloaded in the city can surpass that of any other fish port or even the entire unloading of all other fish ports in the country combined.
THE PHILIPPINES TUNA INDUSTRY: A BRIEF
Tuna fishing is a long-practiced livelihood activity among Filipino fishers, especially in the southern Philippines provinces such as Davao, Zamboanga, and Cotabato.
Early accounts of tuna and tuna-related fishing activities date back to the 1900s during the start of the American rule (1898-1946) in the country.
During the Japanese occupation (1942-1944) during World War II, commercialized tuna fishing slowly started to gain ground.
In the 1950s, American fish packers began to explore the possibility of sourcing tuna from the Philippines.
To bridge the gap between supply and demand, there were several attempts by local fishing corporations to venture into tuna fishing to fill up the American demand.
As a result of growing orders from American importers, local fishing corporations with substantial capital started to get organized during the 1960s, and financed small fishers using hand liners and trolls in southern Mindanao to catch tuna. Fishers from the provinces of central Philippines (Visayas) were contracted to go to deeper waters. The average fishing group consisted of 200 banca s.
The proliferation of companies that bought tuna for export to the US continued in Zamboanga City until the early 1970s, increasing the total exports from
841 tonnes in 1969 to 11,376 tonnes in 1970
As the tuna industry in Zamboanga City experienced a break in business operations due to the closure of several local shippers in the 1970s, General
Santos City was gearing up to replace Zamboanga as the next tuna hub in southern Philippines. The tuna boom in General Santos was spurred by the arrival, in the mid-1970s, of Japanese traders looking for new supplies of sashimi -grade yellow fin tuna.
Almost simultaneous with the opening of the Japanese sashimi market in the
1970s was the introduction and successful use of the fish aggregating device (FAD) locally known as payao .
With a large base of organized tuna producers and the successful use of payaos , the tuna catch in General Santos rose. The reputation of General Santos as the country’s tuna capital started to gain prominence in the 1970s due to its strategic location. The traditional fishing grounds for tuna are the Mindanao Sea, southern Sulu Sea, Moro Gulf and
Celebes Sea, which is all relatively close to General Santos, compared to other provinces in the south. The city is likewise near the major export markets, which translates to cheaper shipment/freight costs for local exporters.
Policies Utilization and Management The national fisheries policy framework of the Philippines is provided by two national laws, namely, the Fisheries Code of 1998, and the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA) of 1997. The Fisheries Code provides policies regarding the development, utilization and management of fishery and aquatic resources.
Conservation, protection and sustained management of the country's fishery and aquatic resources;
Poverty alleviation and the provision of supplementary livelihood among municipal fisher folk;
Improvement of productivity of aquaculture within ecological limits;
Optimal utilization of off-shore and deep-sea resources; and
Upgrading of post-harvest technology.
Republic Act No. 8550 , cited as " The Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998 " aims to improve the productivity of the country's fishery sector and provide conservation and protection to aquatic resources.
Tuna production The Philippines has been a major producer of tuna since the 1970s. In 2003, the Philippines ranked fourth in the world, after China, Japan and Indonesia in the production of tuna and tuna-like species. In the Western Central Pacific Region, it ranks a close second to Indonesia in tuna production, accounting for 22 per cent of the total catch in the region (FAOSTAT, 2005). Tuna resources are distributed throughout the Philippine waters. The major production areas in the Philippines are the Moro Gulf/Celebes Sea, the Sulu Sea, and the South China Sea. Outside the Philippines, tuna fishers are also known to exploit fishing grounds in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.
Indonesia tuna industry The centre of the Indonesia tuna industry is the eastern of Indonesian waters. The region accounts for about 80% of the Indonesia tuna catch, and about 80 - 95% of the tuna exported from Indonesia comes from this area. This dominant position has changed since 1986, at least as far as fresh tuna for sashimi export fishery is concerned, with the Indian Ocean, particularly south of Java and West of Sumatera, accounting for most of the catch. Skipjack (Katsuwonus pelamis) is the principal tuna caught in the eastern Indonesia area, account for 80 - 90% of total tuna landing of Indonesia. The four other species of tuna caught in the eastern Indonesia include yellowfin (Thunnus albacares), big eye (T. obesus), albacore (T. alalunga) , and southern bluefin tuna (T. maccoyii) . Among these species, yellowfin is the most important.
JAPAN Tuna Industry The tuna fishery is the most important fishery in Japan in terms of value. Japan ranked second in the world behind China in tonnage of fish caught—11.9 million tons in 1989, down slightly from 11.1 million metric tons in 1980 In 1989, Japan's tuna landings were valued at nearly 2.8 billion dollars, approximately 20 percent of Japan's total value of fishery landings for that year. Japan's tuna fishery faces a number of difficult challenges. Chief among these are: (1) competition from Korea and Taiwan as suppliers of high-value tuna, (2) growing international regulations and catch quotas for tuna in international waters, ( 3 ) lack of experienced labor for distant-water tuna vessel operations, ( 4 ) high cost of production, (5) increasing influence of imports on pricing of tuna in domestic markets, and (6) a sharp decline in landings by its own fleet.
Japan has more than 2,000 fishing ports, including Nagasaki, in southwest Kyūshū; Otaru, Kushiro, and Abashiri in Hokkaidō. Major fishing ports on the Pacific coast of Honshū include, Hachinohe,Kesennuma, and Ishinomaki along the Sanriku coast, as well as Choshi, Yaizu, Shimizu, and Misaki to the east and south of Tokyo.
Thailand tuna Industry The industry of canned tuna started in Thailand over 30 years ago. With on-going development, undoubtedly Thailand has been the no.1 exporter of canned tuna to the world. Their advantages are in our long experience of labor administration and complete public utilities. Most of all, the strong cooperation among business operators helps balance the plan in the purchasing raw materials and the sale of the finished product. Good networks and strong relationships with sellers and importers also play an important role.
Thailand import frozen raw tuna at over 80-85% of the industry’s need (approximately 700,000-800,000 tonnage a year). Consequently, government and business sectors had numerous rounds of discussions regarding the possibility to establish a fleet to harvest tuna. This still hasn’t materialized due to the lack of budgets and good administration. To rely mostly on importing raw materials gives rise to instability of both price and availability.
Thailand faces problems of regulation imposed by the source of products. They are in the middle of negotiations regarding the free trade zone and how other countries benefit from this trade. Mostly, it is determined to use raw materials harvested in Thai territorial waters, or in the deep sea by ships of Thai nationality/ negotiators, or flexibility to use rules of accumulative sources within ASEAN. Therefore, relying mainly on importing Tuna as a raw material into Thailand is to our disadvantage against competitors like the Philippines, Indonesia and Equador – countries which have their own resources and fleets.