Philippines Tuna Industry Doubtful About Tuna Ranching


Linda Salim, for SeafoodSource from Surabaya, Indonesia

Published on
October 6, 2008

Jesus Emmanuel Paras, Philippines agriculture undersecretary, announced to the local press last week that the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquaculture Resources would embark on a bluefin tuna management program. But members of the local fishing industry question whether the water temperature and capital needed for tuna ranching would be sufficient.

The program would substitute tuna ranching for traditional wild harvests. Tuna ranching refers to catching young tuna that are reared in captivity, fed and bred to reach adult size, then harvested.

Apart from Spain, bluefin tuna ranching is also practiced in Algeria, Croatia, France, Italy, Libya and Morocco.

The program reaped plenty of criticism early in its adoption. In 2005, global tuna ranching produced 25,000 metric tons of fish, up 10,000 metric tons from 2000, according to the Fisheries and Agriculture Organization.

So far, local government and tuna industry practitioners aren't fully supportive of the tuna ranching idea. Marfenio Tan, president of Socsksargen Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries, insists that Philippine water temperatures would be too warm for tuna culture. Tan doubts that such a program would ever be successful in the Philippines, also citing the intensive amount of capital required for tuna ranching.

Although not directly supportive of Tan's opinion, South Cotabato Republican Darlene Custodio says that from studying other countries' experiences, tuna culture is tricky. Tuna feed on other fish and are not used to consuming industrial fish feed, Custodio notes.

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