The start of September in General Santos City is guaranteed to be a bright and festive extravaganza, courtesy of the sea bounty that has earned it the moniker of Tuna Capital of the Philippines. Growing out of the original date for the City Charter Anniversary celebrations (moved to June starting 2017), this tribute to the local tuna fishing and canning industry would give rise to the GenSan Tuna Festival. Count on the first week of September to be filled with special events like the bombastic float parade and presentations on the Oval Plaza Grandstand. In the wake of the citywide merriment however is a more businesslike facet of GenSan’s love for tuna, as industry stakeholders gather together in the city for the 19th Annual Tuna Congress.
On the morning of Wednesday, September 6, the SOCSKSARGEN Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries Inc. (SFAII) assembled at the SM City GenSan Trade Halls for the 2017 Tuna Congress. Here they will once again confer over the course of three days on new and currently existing strategies to both make the general fishing (specifically tuna fishing) industry grow even further. This is in order to overcome the challenges of disappearing stocks of tuna in the open sea due to economic shifts and the ravages of climate change, in the hope of making GenSan’s take of sashimi-grade tuna remain competitive in national and regional markets.
Around the core discussion group of the SCAII, delegations from up to 800 tuna industry players both foreign and domestic will attend the event as guests, to join the conferencing as well as to advertise their fishing and allied businesses to the general public. Directing the flow of talks in the Tuna Congress is their overall theme for this nineteenth year that they will gather together: ““The Philippine Tuna Industry: Responsive. Strengthened. Competitive.”
That is not to say that the whole Tuna Congress proceedings will be nothing but cloistered conferences. A prominent feature during the three-day period is the Tuna Trade Exhibit, showcasing the history of the GenSan tuna industry and what its associated businesses are up to today, and their plans for tomorrow. The opening of the trade exhibit, and the Tuna Congress as a whole, will be graced by some major government officials with purviews on either the city or its fishing industry. Fighting Senator Manny Pacquiao delivered the keynote address, followed by messages from Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol and the Honorable Cong. Luis Ferrer IV, the Chairman of the Congressional Committee on Fisheries.
While the first day is given to the opening ceremonies of the congress and trade exhibit, the following days will delve into the meat of the prestigious gathering. The formal opening and welcome remarks on Thursday, September 7, will be given by SCAII President Joaquin Lu and General Santos City Mayor Ronnel C. Rivera. Next follows the congress plenary on Philippine Tuna Fishery, followed by a consultation on a new National Tuna Management Plan to be adopted this year. The last day of the Tuna Congress on Friday, September 8, will be given to a presentation on ocean studies conducted by USAID.
Later on in the evening the Congress will perform the updating of the Tuna Congress resolutions from the year before, and the reading of the new resolutions formed this year. Following the turnover of resolutions old and new, the 19th Tuna Congress will then conclude with a farewell dinner for all delegates and guests.
One viewpoint being espoused by the SFAII for the Tuna Congress this year is their assertion that the tuna industry of the country is not dying after all. Citing the wealth of new fishing management based on scientific data analysis and improvements on working conditions for the labor force, they believe that these steps are worthy to be celebrated in the Congress, along with continuing efforts for the future of the industry.
It is therefore with utmost pride and greatest pleasure that the SOCSKSARGEN Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries Inc. invites their fellow Generals and other guests to make their way to the SM City GenSan Trade Halls to join them in this celebration of the great tuna industry, continuing on from the spectacle of the Tuna Festival. Come then, and witness the 19th Tuna Congress from September 6 to 8, only here in GenSan.
Photo courtesy of Mayor Ronnel Rivera’s FB page