Foreign Vessels Supply Tuna to General Santos City


Linda Salim, for SeafoodSource from Surabaya, Indonesia

Published on
September 8, 2008

During the 10th Annual Tuna Congress in General Santos City in the Philippines last week, fishermen and large tuna manufacturers requested the government cut its fuel prices by 10.7 cents per liter. The measure was in response to small boats that stopped fishing earlier this year due to high fuel costs.

Jerry Damalerio, owner of Damalerio Fishing in General Santos, reported that fuel drained up to 75 percent of his production costs. According to Malcolm Sarmiento, bureau of fisheries and aquatic resource director, discounted fuel will save the industry, which consumes 18 to 20 million liters of fuel worth $25.7 million a year.

A recent landing dock extension in General Santos has crowded the port with large foreign vessels. An additional 430 meters was added to the dock, giving it the ability to accommodate 7,000-metric-ton-vessels. Miguel Lamberte Jr., local manager of the Philippine fisheries development authority and operator of General Santos' fish port complex, pointed out that five foreign vessels unloaded product during the Tuna Congress, with more lining up to negotiate unloading.

Lamberte mentioned that it was a turn-around from the first six months of the year when the tuna supply, which averages 400,000 metric tons per year, was down 35 percent. High fuel costs and an Indonesian ban on the exportation of whole tuna caught in Indonesian waters are the main reasons for the shortage.

To take advantage of the abundant tuna supply, Lamberte suggested that tuna processors upgrade their cold storage capacity by 30,000 to 50,00 metric tons, allowing space for a six to 12 months supply of raw material. By increasing storage capacity, tuna processors would be able to cut production costs by expanding storage facilities and purchasing material cheaper when they're in season. During tuna season, raw material averages around $1,800 per metric ton, but the price could go as high as $2,200 during the off-season.

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