October 7, 2008
Proposal to farm bluefish tuna receive lukewarm response in Philippines
A proposal by Philippine's Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to fund bluefish tuna research is receiving lukewarm response from from local government and tuna industry leaders in General Santos City.
Marfenio Y. Tan, president of the Socksargen Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries Inc., noted that tuna culturing would not be feasible in Philippine waters.
Sea ranching of bluefin, a high-value tuna species, has been taking place in various countries in Europe.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said that sea ranching is a "cause of concern," since it involves using juvenile fish as "seed stock" in tuna-fattening operations.
Sea ranching or captured-based aquaculture is a practice in which tuna are caught in the wild and then penned and fattened using aquaculture techniques prior to harvesting, it added.
South Cotabato Representative Darlene R. Antonino-Custodio said that tuna ranching would be difficult in the country since it has not been tested locally. Also, tuna does not thrive on manufactured feedstock but on raw fish, which is in short supply.
Filipino fishermen mostly catch yellowfin tuna, which has less value than a bluefin.
In Japan, a single large adult bluefin tuna can reportedly sell for US$50,000 or more.
Yellowfin tuna are also exported; but in local markets the price can be as low as PHP120 (US$2.53 )per kg.
Tan also doubted that culturing yellowfin tuna would be popular as it has high set-up costs.
Custodio said that no successful breeding of yellowfin has been achieved so far in the country.
In 2005, FAO estimated that production of bluefin tuna via sea-ranching runs around 25 000 tonnes a year, up from 10, 000 tonnes in the previous five years.