Tuna still top earner for GenSan, but city now looks to other agro-industry sectors

Posted on August 12, 2014

GENERAL SANTOS CITY -- Tuna production, the top revenue earner for this city, has reached its peak, an official said, and the local government is now looking at the development of other sectors to sustain economic growth.

Mayor Ronnel C. Rivera said tuna and other fish landings at the city’s 11-hectare fish port complex rose by 14.5% to 104,310.96 metric tons (MT) in the first semester compared to 91,072.27 MT in the same period last year.

However, the mayor admitted that the volume of tuna and other fish landings have long reached optimum production.

“We will no longer be able to produce the same quantity of tuna catch we enjoyed more than a decade ago,” he said.

Data from the Department of Trade and Industry show that for the first quarter of 2014, the value of Philippines tuna exports -- including fresh, frozen and preserved tuna that are mostly sourced from this city -- reached $147.199 million, 3.98% higher than the $141.564 million posted in the same quarter of 2013.

“Our local economy, tuna production and fish landing will continue to be the number one revenue earner. It will continue to be a vital source of income... GenSan’s production volume may not drastically diminish, but it will not also post significant increases in the future,” said Mr. Rivera, whose family is involved in the tuna business.

Fishing companies here have in recent years been exploring fishing grounds beyond exclusive zones around the Sarangani Bay area to maintain production for the canning factories.

However, there have been tighter protectionist policies among central and western Pacific countries. Within Mindanao, fishermen in neighboring Davao Region have also recently announced a campaign to have exclusive rights to tuna catch within the Davao Gulf once the closed season for fishing is lifted by the end of this month.

Further, companies have also resorted to importing frozen tuna to augment local catch and landings. In 2013, frozen tuna topped the primary imported commodity here with 13 million MT shipped in worth about P1.053 trillion, according to data from the city government.

“This means Filipino fishing companies have to resort to expanding their operations beyond Philippines shores and borders. This has led to some capital flight but it is a necessary strategy in order to prevent the collapse of our fishing industry,” Mr. Rivera said.

The city administration is now looking at the expansion of the city’s agricultural and industry sectors to develop GenSan as an agro-industrial center as well as a trade and transport hub in southern Mindanao. The city’s other agricultural produce are copra, tropical fruits, poultry and livestock. -- Louie O. Pacardo