The lifting of the ban on harvesting yellowfin tuna in the Pacific boosted domestic production by 25 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, both in volume and in value, according to the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS).
BAS data show that production of yellowfin tuna reached 32,348 metric tons valued at P1.4 billion.
Yield from commercial fisheries, which accounted for two-thirds of the period’s haul, went up by 38 percent to 21,610 MT.
Also, municipal fishers, who accounted for the rest of yellowfin tuna production, increased their harvest by 5.7 percent to 10,746 MT.
The BAS attributed the increase in production to “more unloadings…by foreign fishing vessels for canneries in General Santos City due to lifting of ban on tuna fishing in Pacific Seas.”
Also, the BAS noted that the weather was good in the first three months, which allowed more fishing trips.
The SOCCSKSARGEN region accounted for the bulk of shipments, which were mostly unloaded at the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority facility and in privately managed landing centers in South Cotabato.
“Heavy unloadings of yellowfin tuna were also observed in Quezon and Sulu,” the BAS said.
The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) imposed in January 2010 a ban on certain parts of the Pacific Ocean where three-fifths of the world’s tuna production comes from.
The Philippines is among the 25 countries that adopted the WCPFC Convention, which “seeks to address problems in the management of high seas fisheries resulting from” causes such as unregulated fishing and excessive fleet capacity as well as to conserve and manage highly migratory fish stocks.
Last year, the WCPFC approved a Philippine request to fish in the so-called “Pocket 1” of the Pacific, a 590,000 square-kilometer area east of southern Indonesia and north of Papua New Guinea.
BAS data also show that, for the same reasons, there was a 34-percent surge in the production volume of skipjack—another tuna species—which reached 56,260 MT in the first quarter.