PCAF employees listen to the inquiries of guests at the agency’s booth during the National Tuna Congress.

The Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF) supported the fishing industry and its stakeholders at the 22nd National Tuna Congress (NTC) on September 1 to 2, 2022, in General Santos City. 

After a two-year pause due to the pandemic, PCAF joined more than 60 industry players, government and non-government organizations at the NTC Trade Exhibit. 

Over 1,200 guests enjoyed the display of products, services, and latest technology of industry players, partners and other allied industries. 

PCAF employees join the AFCs from national and local level at the plenary session of the Congress.

The two-day event also welcomed 600 participants at the plenary sessions. Experts and leaders discussed tuna industry-specific relevant strategies, best practices, market updates, pandemic recovery mechanisms, solutions, and best practices. 

The Agricultural and Fishery Council (AFCs) Chairpersons and members, both from the national and local levels, and  PCAF representatives joined the plenary to keep them abreast of the latest issues and concerns affecting the industry and be familiarized with the recommended measures and programs to address these concerns.

With the 15 topics discussed, eight Congress resolutions were reiterated while 21 new resolutions were passed in this year’s NTC. 

One of the resolutions reiterated was the request to the Department of Agriculture (DA)-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to review the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Republic Act 9379, otherwise known as the “Handline Fishing Law of 2007”.

Handline fishing is a traditional method that uses a vertical rod with a bait to catch fish, considered environmentally safe.

RA 9379 supports the development of the headline fishing industry and promotes the competitiveness, sustainability and social development of handline fishing and its allied industries. 

Despite the law’s passage, illegal fishing continues and threatens the sustainability of the local tuna fishing industry. Reviewing its IRR would ensure that the intent of the law is carried out and achieved. 

Other resolutions include urging the DA-BFAR to strictly implement Fisheries Administrative Order (FAO) 259, S.2018 otherwise known as the rules and regulations on importing frozen fish and fishery/aquatic products for wet markets during closed and off-fishing seasons or during the occurrence of calamities.

According to the FAO, to facilitate the monitoring of imported fish products, all imported fish destined for the wet markets shall be traded at the government fish ports of the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority (PFDA). 

Before trading, PFDA shall require specific sanitary certificates from the importer like the maximum residue limits and packaging and labeling requirements.

“The agency is committed to supporting the endorsement of the policy outputs of the NTC. The recommendations will be cascaded to our AFCs and will be discussed in the Committees’ and Councils’ meetings,” said PCAF OIC-Executive Director Julieta Opulencia. 

The AFCs who participated in the Congress include Other Priority Program Committee on Climate Change, Environment and National Resources Chairperson Marita Rodriguez, Regional AFC (RAFC) SOCCSKSARGEN Agri-Fisheries Mechanization Representative Engr. Waldemar Saguilon, RAFC SOCCSKSARGEN Mango Industry Development Council Chairperson Camar Paidumama, Highly Urbanized City AFC General Santos City Member Allen Salanga, and Provincial AFC Sarangani Chairperson Rodrigo España. | JC