The Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) joins the Socsksargen Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries, Inc.(SFFAII) in kickstarting the 22nd National Tuna Congress and Trade Exhibit with the theme, “Braving Rough Seas Toward a Better Tomorrow,” held on September 1-2, 2022 at the SM City General Santos, General Santos City.

During the opening of the Congress Plenary, DA-BFAR’s Officer-in-Charge National Director Nestor D. Domenden served as the event’s keynote speaker. In his message, he shared how the tuna industry had continued to deliver and contribute to the Philippine economy in the past years in spite of various challenges, most notably the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Despite the predicaments brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and other natural calamities, the evolution of the tuna industry continues to be of success as this commodity maintains and commands varied demands – as fresh/chilled/frozen, smoked/dried, and canned products, remains the country’s top export commodity in 2020 with a collective volume of more than 134 thousand metric tons valued at 480 million US dollars, a 12% increase in terms of volume and 0.6% in value. Despite the feat, the Bureau is optimistic that the tuna industry can further be optimized, especially with the ease of COVID-19 restrictions and the country’s growing economy.”

Furthermore, he underscored the Bureau’s landmark projects and initiatives in further strengthening the tuna industry, such as the establishment of the 12 Fisheries Management Areas (FMA), the Integrated Marine Environment Monitoring System (IMEMS), the Fisheries Observer Program, continuous compliance with international commitments, strong representation and active participation in the Regional Fisheries Management Organizations, and the commitment to pursuing the National Tuna Management Plan, among others.

Meanwhile, gracing the event earlier in the day and leading the opening of the Trade Exhibit – another highlight of the Congress—was Usec. Rodolfo V. Vicera, DA Undersecretary for Agri-Industrialization. In his message, he highlighted the importance of stronger partnerships among the whole tuna industry, the local government units, and the national government in order to better help and empower the country’s small farmers and fisherfolk – a good example being the Big Brother Small Brother Partnership. He congratulated the industry for being the second largest exporter and producer of tuna in the world and General Santos City for being the tuna capital not only in the Philippines but in the whole of Southeast Asia.