Philippines set to lead global tuna sector to sustainability
GENERAL SANTOS CITY The Philippines is setting its sights on leading the transformation of the global tuna industry towards sustainability, with the adoption of a monitoring mechanism that ranks canneries based on seven sustainability criteria.
The Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) is adopting the Tuna Cannery Ranking Tool, which was developed by the environmental organization Greenpeace.
“BFAR is fully supportive of the call for Philippine tuna canneries to strengthen their standards on traceability, sustainability, and social equity. It is our hope that through this initiative, we will become more motivated to pursue more sustainable practices and contribute to the global efforts for sustainable tuna management and conservation,” DA Undersecretary and BFAR Director Eduardo Gongona said.
The Philippines is in a position to influence the global tuna industry, as the country is among the highest producers of tuna in the world, second only to Indonesia. It is also the fifth largest exporter of processed and preserved tuna, exporting $370 million in 2017.
The cannery ranking assesses whether the performance of tuna canneries are in the red (fail), yellow (fair), or green (good) zones, using seven criteria: traceability, sustainability of current sourcing, legality, equity/ social responsibility, sourcing policy, transparency and customer information, and driving change.
The first ranking, for 2015, revealed Philippine canneries as having failing performance in almost all criteria. Consequently, some canneries improved some of their practices, as seen in the second ranking.
Greenpeace said it is expecting the third ranking to reveal more canneries in the yellow zone, but is hoping that canneries will all race to green.
“Philippine canneries going green is important as local and global consumers and markets are increasingly demanding sustainable, traceable, and equitable tuna. Canneries play a key role in making sure that tuna will continue to swim our waters, thus contributing to ensuring food security and livelihoods for Filipinos,” Greenpeace Philippines campaigner Vince Cinches said.
“We are happy with the progress made by Philippine canneries, but they need to do more by ensuring that tunas they are selling, and that Filipinos are buying, do not come from slave labor, that there is no destructive fishing gears used, and that the company supports a transition towards sustainable fishing practices and the establishment of ocean sanctuaries in the high seas,” he added.
Some of the new Mindanao Examiner Regional Newspaper dealers in Kidapawan City, North Cotabato Province. (Photos by Rhoderick Beñez)