‘Tuna capital’ creates fisheries division
In a bid to enhance its services for the thriving local fishery industry, the city government is working on the creation of a fisheries division under the City Agriculture Office. City Councilor Brix Tan, chair of the city council’s committee on fisheries, marine life and aquatic resources, said Wednesday the move was based on an ordinance passed by the council earlier this month.
He said the measure, which will upgrade the existing fisheries section into a full division, has been endorsed by City Mayor Ronnel Rivera.
Under the ordinance, Tan said the fisheries division will mainly lead efforts to further develop the city’s fishery industry as well as the monitoring and enforcement of various fishery laws and regulations.
He said it is mandated to spearhead and coordinate the formulation of plans for the management, development, utilization and conservation of the fisheries and aquatic resources within the jurisdiction of the city.
The new fisheries division is tasked to provide technical assistance and advisory to different sectors of the fishery industry, especially in terms of the production of freshwater fry/fingerlings and the strengthening or revitalization of fisherfolk organizations, he said.
“It will handle the data banking of the city’s fishery profile, which will cover fisherfolk registration and boat registration,” Tan said.
Its other functions are the conduct of capacity-building, training support and empowerment initiatives to fisherfolks, Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Councils or FARMCs and deputize fish wardens; facilitate initial registration and licensing of fishing boats weighing three tons and below; and, conduct inspections, measurement and evaluation of registration requirements.
In terms of the enforcement of fishery regulations, he said the fisheries division will take part in the monitoring, control activities, surveillance and apprehensions of violators in coordination with concerned line agencies.
“It will assist the monitoring of the unloading of juvenile fish, which is prohibited by law,” he said.
Tan said the fisheries division will prepare and implement a comprehensive city fisheries management plan that will reinforce the provisions of the City Fisheries Code of 2009, Republic Act (RA) 8550, as amended by RA 10654, or the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, and relevant provisions of RA 8435 or the Agriculture Modernization Act of 1997.
The upgrading of CAO’s fisheries section into a division was sought by local tuna industry players through a resolution passed during the 18th National Tuna Congress hosted by the city in September last year.
The Soccsksargen Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries Inc. said there is a “compelling need” to create a fisheries division under the local government with extended and wider scope of powers and authority “to ensure a more effective and efficient delivery of basic services” to the industry.
Dubbed the “Tuna Capital of the Philippines,” the city is home to six of the country’s eight tuna canning plants and other related ventures that generate an average of nearly US$ 300 million in annual export receipts.
The city’s tuna fishing industry yields an average daily catch of 750 metric tons and directly employs around 7,800 workers.