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Palau Team In Gensan To Explore Tuna Joint Ventures

Palau state and private sector officials start today their two-day visit to explore joint fishing ventures with counterparts in southern Mindanao, the head of the Fisheries bureau yesterday said.

”The Palau officials will conduct an observation tour to check the facilities of local companies in General Santos. They are looking for joint ventures on fishing and processing,” Malcolm I. Sarmiento, Jr., director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, said in a telephone interview.

The delegation includes Palau fisheries bureau officials, Palau Ambassador to the Philippines Ramon Rechibei, and top executives of three tuna fishing firms, he added.

The government has been looking for access to new fishing areas since last year, following Indonesia’s tighter rules on tuna fishing in its waters. In May last year, Indonesia banned the transport of tuna caught in its waters for processing in overseas markets. The Fisheries bureau projects an 80,000-metric ton output loss per year because of the ban.

Still, the bureau now projects faster production growth of 7% this year from 5.75% in 2008 due to stable prices of production inputs and more areas for fishing. “We will have additional fishing grounds through joint ventures with foreign companies,” Mr. Sarmiento said.

Last year, the Philippines and Timor-Leste signed an agreement on access to each other’s fishing grounds.

Tuna production rose to 619,137.27 metric tons in 2007 from 560,918.57 MT in 2006 and 530,410.4 MT in 2005. Philippine export of fish and fisheries products totaled $468.786 million in 2007, up from $386.283 million in 2006 and $346.870 million in 2005, Bureau of Agricultural Statistics data show.