Travel restrictions a blow for Philippines’ tuna exports

Published on
March 24, 2020

A lockdown on travel implemented fight the COVID-19 pandemic is causing disruptions to The Philippines’ tuna exports, The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported 19 March.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has placed Luzon, the Philippines' largest and most populous region, which includes Manila, the country’s capital, under lockdown from 17 March to 12 April. 

In response, major airlines in the Philippines canceled some domestic and international flights to and from Luzon. As most of the country’s tuna is exported via air routes through Manila, trade is expected to be disrupted..

Santos City in Mindanao would be hit hard if it fails to find an alternative way to transport fresh tuna, its key commodity, according to the Daily Inquirer. A prolonged disruption in trade would affect livelihoods and income of as many as 30,000 workers in the local tuna sector and their family members, Santos City Ronnel Rivera said.

About 5 metric tons (MT) of tuna from Santos is exported every day to various countries in Asia, with Japan being the largest buyer. Tuna cargoes delivered from the city in the morning must be loaded in international flights before the middle of the day to ensure the freshness of the commodity, but that can no longer happen, General Santos City Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Elmer Catulpos told the Inquirer.

“With Manila cut off from us via air, land, and sea, businessmen are looking into options on how such a situation can have minimal effect on the industry,” Catulpos said.

Fish landings in the city’s fishing port, the country’s second-largest, have been on the rise for the last 10 years, with tuna accounting for 80 percent of landings. A total of 247,637 MT of fish was unloaded at the General Santos fish port in 2018, up 17 percent from 2017, according to data from the Philippine Fishing Development Authority.

Photo courtesy of Tony Magdaraog/Shutterstock

Contributing Editor reporting from Hanoi, Vietnam

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