September 26, 2008
Tuna catchers are urged to diversify into aquaculture as tuna stocks are significantly declining across the world's primary fishing grounds.
Chamber of Aquaculture and Ancillary Industries in Sarangani (Chains) president Ramon Macaraig, during recently held two-day 10th National Tuna Congress in General Santos City, said aquaculture production in the country has significantly developed over the years, with the industry now valued at US$750 million.
Lower catch levels of tuna worldwide has resulted to stricter enforcement of tuna and Macaraig said increasing domestic aquaculture production can fill in the current supply gap in local and foreign markets and ensure the country's food security.
He said aquaculture production in Mindanao offers vast opportunities for growth with a variety of species available and diversification into aquaculture can provide incomes to those who are depending exclusively on the tuna catch.
He said 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, while it is not yet economically feasible to farm yellow-fin tuna and other commercial tuna species.
He noted that giant market China is still the main export market for high-value seafood such as live grouper, snapper, abalone and sea cucumber.
Macaraig said the sustainability of aquaculture operations depends on the feeding systems used, the acceptability of products in local and foreign markets, and choice of location for operations.