THE stakeholders of the tuna fishing industry in General Santos City are pushing for the creation of a department for fisheries and aquatic resources to achieve the full potential of the country's fisheries sector.

Currently, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, an agency responsible for the development, improvement, management, and conservation of the Philippine fisheries and aquatic resources, is under the Department of Agriculture.

In a press conference on Monday for the 22nd National Tuna Congress on September 1-2, Rosanna Contreras, executive director of the Soccsksargen Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries Inc., said their initial proposal for a separate department for fisheries has not prospered.

Contreras said various bills had been filed in Congress for such a purpose, but none of them passed the second reading.

She added that the need to improve the supply of the Filipino's protein requirements is enough basis to create a separate department.

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"Right now, there are 19 bills that are being pushed in the House of Representatives in relation to this proposal, while there are three proposed bills in the Senate. Every Congress, we always reiterate this call," Contreras said.

But Contreras added they are optimistic that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will support the proposal.

The tuna congress to be held in the city on Thursday and Friday will tackle the challenges affecting the industry and set fresh strategies to sustain the fisherfolk's competitiveness in the global market.

The two-day congress, which will be held at the trade halls of the SM City Mall of Gensan, carries the theme "Philippine Tuna Industry: Braving Rough Seas Towards a Better Tomorrow."

It will end with the presentation of 29 resolutions on various concerns of the industry.

The tuna congress is among the highlights of the city's 2022 Tuna Festival.

Dubbed the country's "tuna capital," Gensan has hosted the National Tuna Congress since it was first staged 22 years ago.

The city hosts six of the country's seven tuna canneries and other related ventures that generate over $300 million in annual export receipts.