BFAR denies reported tuna shortage in General Santos City

By Aquiles Zonio
Mindanao Bureau
Last updated 03:30pm (Mla time) 07/06/2007

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines — The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) denied the reported shortage of small tuna in this southern Philippine city.

 

Puresa Duremdes of BFAR information division told the Philippine Daily Inquirer “many” export permits were being issued daily for tuna canning factories and fishing firms here.

 

This, Duremdes claimed, indicates tuna canning plants operate normally in General Santos City.

 

Mariano Fernandez, manager of Ocean canning firm here, had said operations of tuna processing plants in the city were reduced to about 80 percent due to shortage in supply of young tuna.

 

Juvenile tuna are the ones used by tuna canneries in making sardines.

 

Fernandez attributed the shortage to global warming.

 

In a mobile phone interview with Fernandez, the non-renewal by the Indonesian government of the bilateral fishing agreement with the country exacerbated the problem.

 

He said Indonesian Navy has been very strict and closely watching the Indonesian territorial waters, preventing any poachers.

 

Sulu Sea and Indonesian waters have been the traditional fishing grounds of fisherfolk especially tuna catchers from General Santos.

 

Fernandez claimed that if within a week’s time there would be no tuna, he will be forced to temporarily close down Ocean Canning.

 

Rajat Balain of Alliance Tuna International, one of the leading canned tuna manufacturers in the country, denied the reported shortage in young tuna.

 

Balain said Alliance Tuna has not encountered problems in sourcing tuna for its canning operations.

 

He also said that since the company started operating in 2004, its annual growth rate has been about 25 percent per year.

 

“A steady growth in net sales and profits belie the gloom-and-doom scenario frequently cited in news reports,” Balain said in his e-mail to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, parent company of INQUIRER.net.

 

According to Balain, in the first quarter of the current year, Alliance Tuna operated at a 78 percent capacity, much higher than last year’s 67 percent.

 

This figure, he said, increased in the succeeding quarter, from 64 percent last year to 95 percent this year.

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