Press Release
September 4, 2008

In celebration of the National Tuna Congress in GenSan

Senator Edgardo J. Angara today vowed to continue working towards a sustainable and viable fisheries sector, saying there is a need to provide additional financial support for vessel modernization under the 2009 General Appropriations Act.

Speaking before the National Tuna Congress, Angara said that the vessel modernization provision of the Philippine Fisheries Code must be allocated P250 million under the 2009 budget and the same amount every year.

"True, the Philippines is fortunate in having vast fishery resources at its disposal, with over 2.2 million square kilometers of seas. However, all our fish species are now showing signs of overfishing. In the early nineties, fishing contributed about 5% to our total GDP. It went down to 4% in the mid nineties, and has been less than 3% since 1997," said Angara, who was former Secretary of Agriculture and principal author of the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA).

He added, "Any drastic changes in fish stocks, which affect the viability of the industry, directly affect the city's economy and the livelihood of many people. Fortunately, something can still be done to reverse the current trend."

Apart from providing additional budget, Angara has also vowed to work towards securing a grant from the government of Spain for scientific studies that will lead to the development of the Philippine bluefin tuna management plan in strategic locations in northeastern Philippines.

The Philippine tuna industry, largely in General Santos, accounts for about 12 percent of the country's total fisheries production and supports over 120,000 jobs. It accounts for more than P10 billion in commercial value per year.

"Indeed, there is no quick fix to the industry's problems and limitations, but together, we can develop a practical road map that will enable us to hasten not only the industry's recovery but enhance its competitiveness as well," Angara said.

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