The stakeholders in the tuna industry in Southeast Asia have agreed to coordinate efforts in combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing during an international meet held in General Santos City this week.
General Santos City Mayor Ronnel C. Rivera, one of the speakers at the two-day National Tuna Congress, said industry players in the city are pushing for disseminating information on proper fishing methods and standards with the economic integration of member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
Rivera said the city’s fishing industry play a vital role in the growth of the Asean region as it covers some of the most productive waters in the world.
Joaquin Lu, Soccsksargen Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries Inc. (SFFAII) president, said there is a need for Asean members to synchronize fisheries regulations to ensure better cooperation in the region.
“The fisheries sector has been facing significant challenges due to the depleted state of various wild fish stocks, lack of accurate statistics on stock status and poor management of fishery resources,” Lu said.
The Soccsksargen region covers South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos in Central Mindanao.
Mayor Rivera also noted that as early as 2012, the city had joined already the Asean Sea Food Federation as part of efforts to enhance its commitment towards regional cooperation.
“Our main goal is to contribute to the larger goal of integrating the region’s national economies and achieve higher levels of economic dynamism and competitiveness,” Rivera said.
Top industry experts were invited to the Congress to shed light on the opportunities, issues and challenges facing the fishing industry in line with the Asean economic integration.
Foreign delegates include top fishery experts from Vietnam, Palau, Papua New, United States, Indonesia and Thailand had participated.
Keith Bigelow, fisheries scientist of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, discussed initiatives in combating illegal, unreported and unregulated while Renerio Acosta, economic advisor of the United States Agency for International Development regional development mission for Asia, tackled the oceans and fisheries partnerships.