Mindanao calls for equitable share in national fish production budget

Sep. 22, 2008

General Santos City-Mindanao stakeholders are calling for an equitable share in the national

budget for fish production during the 10th National Tuna Congress held recently in this city.

In his presentation on Mindanao updates during the congress held on September 4, undersecretary

Virgilio Leyretana, chairperson of the Mindanao Economic Development Council (Medco) supported this

call, by pointing out that only a little more than 17 percent or 165.17 million pesos is plowed back to the

island in terms of budget this year.

Leyretana further stated that this is so in spite of Mindanao’s contribution of more than 43 percent of

the country’s total fish production in 2007 and given the islands’ booming aquaculture industry.

Luzon, on the other hand, contributes 40 percent to this year’s total fish production but has the

biggest budget share at 37 percent or 348.30 million pesos. Visayas, which accounts for 18 pesos in the entire

fish contribution, is given 144 million pesos or 15.2 percent of the total budget share.

While the tuna industry contributes 280 million US dollars in annual tuna exports, Leyretana noted that

investments in the island-region’s fisheries sector have been minimal over the past years.

In his speech, senator Manny Villar also stressed the need to extend substantial support for the

tuna industry.

Villar recently passed Senate Resolution No. 504 urging the senate to inquire into the plight of fishermen in the wake of the challenges confronting the fishing industry.

The provision of financial support for the modernization of the fishing industry thereby helping tuna fishermen avail loans from the Agricultural Competitive Enhancement program (ACEP) was also pushed by senator Edgardo Angara who also graced the congress.

Angara also promised to try to pass an additional 250 million peso budget for the renovation of tuna industry facilities.

The development of the industries in Mindanao particularly in agriculture and fisheries would create a huge potential for investments in the island, said Vicente Lao, Mindanao Business Council (MinBC) president.

He added that Mindanao’s economy would also benefit from the international cooperation and complementation in the Brunei Darussalam Indonesia Malaysia The Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).

The congress’ theme this year Managing our Tuna Resource: Exploring Opportunities and Alternatives, urges the sustainability of marine resources amidst threats of depleting marine biodiversity caused by climate change.

The country’s participation in the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) through BIMP-EAGA created milestones to help safeguard marine and coastal resources for future generations.

It can be recalled earlier this year that the Asia Development Bank (ADB) supported environmentalists working with Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines to draw up a plan to protect the region’s seas and rainforests, to help the the millions of livelihoods that depend on it.

With the common goal of sustainable development for the fisheries sector especially in the tuna industry, Mindanao stakeholders only hope that recommendations that arise during the congress will reach concerned agencies in the national government. (Medco)

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