Tuna Industry Diversifies into Aquaculture

Manila Bulletin, September 21, 2008 | Go to article overview

Tuna Industry Diversifies into Aquaculture


GENERAL SANTOS CITY--The local tuna industry should take advantage of opportunities in aquaculture production in the face of dwindling tuna stocks across the world's primary fishing grounds.

At the 10th National Tuna Congress held here earlier this month, aquaculture experts encouraged more tuna industry stakeholders to diversify into aquaculture as a way of adapting to the decline in global tuna catches amid high fuel costs and increasing international competition.

Aquaculture production in the country has significantly expanded over the years, with the industry now valued at $750 million,said Ramon Macaraig, president of the Chamber of Aquaculture and Ancillary Industries in Sarangani (CHAINS),

With the stricter enforcement of tuna management conservation measures resulting in lower catch levels worldwide, increasing domestic aquaculture production can fill in the current supply gap in local and foreign markets and ensure the country's food security.

"Aquaculture production in Mindanao offers opportunities for growth, with a variety of species available," Macaraig said, adding that diversification into aquaculture can supplement the incomes of those who at present depend exclusively on the tuna catch.

While it is not yet economically feasible to farm yellowfin tuna and other commercial tuna species, there are high-value marine species with good potential in both domestic and Asia-Pacific markets, including grouper, pompano, mangrove snapper and Asian sea bass.

China is still the main export market for high-value seafood such as live grouper, snapper, abalone and sea cucumber. Frozen tilapia, catfish and pompano are selling well in the U.S., while Japan is a major market for shrimps and crustaceans. …

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