GenSan tuna trade falls by 80 percent

Inquirer
Last updated 04:29am (Mla time) 07/01/2007

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines—The Earth’s rising temperature is driving tuna species out of the reach of fishermen, a tuna company official said.

 

Mariano Fernandez, manager of Ocean Canning Corp., said because tuna are now more difficult to catch, production has slowed down.

 

Fernandez said because of the scarcity in tuna, the operation of canning factories here has gone down by 80 percent.

 

He said the decrease in tuna supply was traced to the effects of global warming.

 

Fernandez said the warming temperature of water has been driving tuna species deeper underwater making it difficult for fishermen to catch them.

 

“It’s difficult to catch them because they go deeper. Our fishing nets could no longer reach them,” Fernandez said.

 

He said the shortage started last year yet but it has worsened this year because tuna species are now more difficult to find and catch.

 

He said he acknowledged the fact that the scarcity in tuna supply has pushed the price of the fish to as high as $1,400 per metric ton.

 

But he said even a higher price for tuna would not help save the jobs of the workers.

 

“The high price is meaningless when there’s nothing to catch,” Fernandez said.

 

Fernandez said the slowdown in production is putting the jobs of at least 10,000 canning workers at risk.

 

In Ocean Canning alone, he said that company officials decided they have to cut operations from double shift to only one shift per day.

 

Fernandez, who has been in the canning business for about 30 years already, said only the onset of the rainy season could possibly bring back the abundance of tuna.

 

But he quickly added that it was now hard to predict when the rainy season could actually take place.

 

“In the 1980’s we can easily predict when the period of abundance started off, but since 2003 we could no longer predict,” he said.

 

Fernandez said the shortage of tuna only indicates that people must do something to help stop global warming.

 

“We really must take good care of our environment because it’s true that the things we do have a ripple effect on several aspects of our lives,” Fernandez said.

 

He urged the people to avoid burning household wastes so as not to aggravate global warming.

 

The shortage in tuna was most felt in Japan.

 

Wire reports said Japan fell into national panic when global fishing bodies began lowering limits on catches in the world’s rapidly depleting tuna fisheries.

 

The reports said news programs ran reports of higher prices driving top-grade tuna off supermarket shelves and sushi chain stores.

 

They said at nicer restaurants in Tokyo, sushi chefs experimented with substitutes, from cheaper varieties of fish to meat.

 

“It’s like America running out of steak,” Tadashi Yamagata, vice chair of Japan’s national union of sushi chefs, was quoted as saying. “Sushi without tuna just would not be sushi.” Aquiles Zonio, Inquirer Mindanao

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