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Tuna industry reiterates call for creation of DFAR

THE creation of the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DFAR) is one of the resolutions that will be made by stakeholders in the local tuna industry who will gather once again during the 15th National Tuna Congress and Trade Exhibit in General Santos City next month.

Organized by the Soccsksargen Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries Inc. (SFFAII), the gathering is expected to pass 11 other resolutions which the local tuna industry deem as important initiatives that the government can undertake to make the sector more resilient.

Tuna Congress Chairman Joaquin Lu said the creation of DFAR is one of the top resolutions and has long been a clamor of the fishing industry

Lu, a leading player in the local tuna industry, said there is a need to give priority to the fishery sector and ensure its protection in light of the depletion of the resources of the sea.

“The country can have a better leverage in international ministerial conferences, if we are represented by a Cabinet secretary, and not just a bureau director,” he said.

The Senate and the House of Representatives have expressed their support for the creation of the DFAR, but were unable to pass the bill before it adjourned for the 2013 midterm elections.

The Tuna Congress will also request the Department of Transportation and Communications to speed up the issuance of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the handline fishing law to help develop the handline fishing industry.

Lu said the IRR has become more important now that the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission has granted access to Philippine fishing vessels at Pocket 1 of the Pacific Ocean under a Special Management Arrangement.

In line with this, the tuna players will call on President Aquino to create a Philippine Committee for Advancement of Highly Migratory Fisheries to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of highly migratory fish stocks.

Delegates will also press for the rationalization of the Customs and Tariff Code and the amendment of the Cabotage law to reduce freight costs, and improve efficiency of passenger and cargo services.

Lu said the group will call on the government to fast-track its application for the Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP) of the European Union to make it easier for the country to export its products to EU member-countries.

With the theme “Celebrating 15 Years of Advocacy, Partnership and Collaboration,” the annual conference is expected to be attended by delegates and resource persons from Palau, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Solomon Islands, Japan, the United States, Italy and Taiwan.

Government officials, led by Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, Mindanao Development Authority Secretary Luwalhati Antonino, and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Director Atty. Asis Perez, South Cotabato Rep.Pedro Acharon Jr. and Gen. Santos City Mayor Ronnel Rivera, are expected to grace the event.

The two-day conference is part of the annual Tuna Festival which celebrates the 45th Cityhood Day of General Santos, which used to be known as Dadiangas.

In Photo: Photo shows traders in Mindanao weighing freshly caught yellowfin tuna. (World Wildlife Fund-Philippines)






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