GENERAL SANTOS CITY — Region 12, also known as the South Cotabato-Cotabato-Sultan Kudarat-Sarangani-General Santos City (SOCCSKSARGEN) Region, remained the country’s top fish producer with P18 billion in commercial production, or 31% of the national total.
“The region is still in the number one spot in terms of value of commercial production,” said SOCCSKSARGEN Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries, Inc. (SFFAII) Executive Dirrector Rosanna Bernadette B. Contreras.
Tuna from Sarangani Bay, which opens out into the Celebes Sea, represented the top commercial catch.
“For the past several years, oceanic tuna remain the top species for commercial fisheries, followed by sardines in terms of volume.” Ms. Contreras said. Oceanic tuna was the top species by value, followed by round scad or galunggong, she added.
Tuna fishing continues to be a major industry, she added, noting that Philippine-flagged boats operate both within the country’s exclusive economic zone as well as the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
Tuna accounted for 87% of the fish products unloaded at the General Santos City Fishport in 2017 amounting to 210,761 metric tons (MT). Philippine-flagged vessels accounted for 53% of the total.
Region 12 has the second-largest commercial fishing fleet at 1,957 vessels, after the National Capital Region, which has 3,550, according data from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.
Ms. Contreras said higher petroleum prices due to global commodity price movements and new excise taxes imposed by the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law, could affect the competitiveness of the tuna fleet.
“Petroleum is 60-70% of operational costs, so these would definitely increase operational costs,” she said.
“Passing on the additional cost to consumers amounts to a price increase of 12-14%,” she added.
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2018, the Philippines rose to 10th from 12th in marine capture production despite a 4.3% decline in volume, overtaking Chile and Myanmar.
The Fisheries Situationer for 2017 of the Philippine Statistics Office indicates a decrease in fish production by 1.04%, with commercial output falling 6.89% and output by municipal fishermen falling 1.05%. On the other hand, aquaculture output rose 1.68%. — Carmencita A. Carillo