Occidental Mindoro emerging as new ‘tuna capital’
Juancho Mahusay (The Philippine Star) - April 7, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines -  Changing behavioral patterns of the tuna have proved to be a boon for two towns in Occidental Mindoro, which have seen increasing catches of tuna over the last few years.

This was highlighted during last week’s staging of “Tuna-Tonelada Festival,” a side event in Mamburao town’s founding anniversary celebration, which showcased the abundance of tuna fish in waters around Mindoro island. 

“Today, most of the tuna being exported by the Philippines to Japan, Korea and Australia, to as far as European countries like Switzerland, Germany and United Kingdom, come mostly from Mindoro island, specifically Mamburao and Sablayan municipalities of Occidental Mindoro,” noted Joselito Tiongson, site manager for World Wildlife Fund (WWF)-Philippines’ Mindoro team.

Mamburao and Sablayan became major suppliers of tuna starting 2008 to 2010 due to changing behavioral patterns of tuna. The fish head to Mindoro Strait, a deep part within the West Philippine Sea, which is now being dubbed by experts and fishermen as the new “tuna highway.” The fish choose the central part of the sea channel as their breeding ground.

WWF-Philippines and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) recorded the biggest tuna catch in Mamburao in the years 2011 to 2012, where an average of 600,000 kilos of tuna delivered around the Philippines and outside the country came from this area.

An average of 200-300 kilos of tuna is caught daily five days a week within the Mindoro area, noted Roberto Cueto, vice-president of Tuna Fishers Association of Mamburao.

In 2011, the local government unit of Mamburao partnered with WWF for a project called Partnership Program Towards Sustainable Tuna (PPTST). The project, involving the municipal agriculture office of Mamburao, the private sector, other non-government organizations (NGOs) and the fisherfolk, is designed to propagate the proper handling and catching of tuna to sustain the supply of tuna in the area.

Among the concerns of the program, said Tiongson, is to encourage local fishermen to use hand-line fishing or kawil system instead of commercial fishing methods, which are destructive for the fish species and the marine environment. Funding from this project came mostly from the German Investment Development Fund, an international funding agency.

Importers from European and Asian countries are said to prefer tuna fished through hand-line method “because it maintains the intactness of the flesh as well as its good taste.”

One of the biggest tuna exporters in the country today, Mamburao-based JAM Seafoods, Inc.,  disclosed that since the start of this year, tuna fish being sold in Metro Manila markets and exported to Europe and Middle East are coming from Occidental Mindoro.

 

EUROPE AND MIDDLE EAST EUROPEAN AND ASIAN GERMAN INVESTMENT DEVELOPMENT FUND GERMANY AND UNITED KINGDOM JOSELITO TIONGSON MAMBURAO MAMBURAO AND SABLAYAN MINDORO OCCIDENTAL MINDORO TUNA
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