Twenty-one species of tuna have been recorded in the Philippine waters but only six are caught in commercial quantity and form the basis of the tuna fishing industry. These are the Yellowfin (Thunnus albacares), Bigeye (Thunnus obesus), Skipjack (Katsuwonus pelamis), Easter Little Tuna or ‘Kawakawa’ (Euthynnus affinis), Frigate Tuna (Auxis thazard), and Bullet Tuna (Auxis rochei) .
Tuna is by far the largest seafood export commodity of the Philippines in terms of quantity and value . Next to Indonesia, the Philippines is Asia’s largest tuna exporter. In 2016, it was the Western and Central Pacific Ocean’s 7th best tuna generator. The country was able to export worldwide a total of 103,542 metric tonnes of prime-grade Tuna with an export value of nearly 300 million US Dollars. Japan, the United States, and Italy are the major destinations of Philippine Tuna. About 52 percent of the country’s fish exports come from tuna, which are still abundant in Mindoro, Ilocos Norte, Negros, and Sarangani .
Even though Tuna is a valuable fish commodity in the Philippines, it is feared that overfishing is threatening the collapse of the tuna industry. Such case is indeed what’s already occurring in some locations of the Philippines. In General Santos, known as the nation’s “Tuna Capital”, the pressure on Tuna population has risen due to the expansion of the Tuna business in the region. In one market of General Santos, fisherfolks are allowed to catch small net-caught tuna which is prohibited in many countries. The situation has become so alarming that the European Union has warned the Philippines it would freeze Tuna imports from the country unless illegal fishing methods were stopped. The EU accounts for about 40 percent of the Philippines’ tinned tuna exports .
It was announced in July 2018 that the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), the country’s management authority for fisheries and aquatic resources, is pushing for the establishment of Tuna farms in Samar provinces, the first attempt I the country to culture the high-valued fish species. The project is in partnership with Japan International Cooperation Agency and giant firm Feedmix Specialist Inc .
According to world statistics, several tuna species are in peril. Bluefin (Thunnus thynnus) is critically endangered with just 2% of their 1950 biomass left, Bigeye recently fell below the 20% level necessary for replacement, and Yellowfin are also down more than 70% . |
- Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). 2005. Fishery Country Profile – The Republic of the Philippines, (http://www.fao.org/fi/oldsite/FCP/en/phl/PROFILE.HTM)
- Seafood Trade Intelligence Portal. 2018. Tuna in the Philippines, (https://seafood-tip.com/sourcing-intelligence/countries/philippines/tuna/)
- Yan, G. 2015. The Coral Triangle. Catching Tuna the Right Way in the Philippines, (http://thecoraltriangle.com/stories/catching-tuna-the-right-way-in-the-philippines)
- Gutierrez, J. 2014. Al Jazeera Media Network. In Pictures: The Decline of Philippine Tuna, (https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/inpictures/2014/10/pictures-decline-philippine-tun-201410693837628541.html)
- Meniano, S. 2018. Philippine News Agency. BFAR to Set Up Tuna Farms in Samar Seas,( https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1041141#)
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