Biggest consumers of Philippine tuna need to invest in sustainable fisheries in the Coral Triangle – WWF
According to data from the Philippine National Statistics Office, North America, the United Kingdom, and Germany are the biggest consumers of canned tuna from the Philippines taking in more than 10,000 tons each between 2008 and 2010. They are followed by China. Canned tuna from the Philippines are exported to as many as 89 countries, leaving out only South America and parts of Africa and Central Asia.
North America also leads the rest of the globe in consuming frozen and fresh or chilled Philippine tuna, followed by countries in southern Europe and again, China.
“The Philippine tuna industry is struggling to meet increasing global demands, placing more pressure on fully exploited stocks in the Coral Triangle,” said Dr. Jose Ingles, WWF Coral Triangle Strategy Leader.
According to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission Scientific Committee, some tuna species such as bigeye and yellowfin are now fully exploited. Signs of overfishing are also occurring throughout Philippine waters.
"These infographics clearly show the world's dependence on Philippine tuna fisheries. If these large consumer countries are to continue benefiting from tuna resources from the Philippines and the rest of the Coral Triangle, more investments should be channeled towards the sustainable management of tuna in this part of the world,” added Ingles.
Nursery of the seas
The Coral Triangle, which straddles the seas of six countries in Asia Pacific, is a tuna nursery where highly sought-after species such as yellowfin, bigeye, southern bluefin, and skipjack tuna migrate and spawn.
Tuna caught in the Coral Triangle makes for about 30 percent of the total global tuna catch, contributing as much as 35 percent to the total tuna catch coming from the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, which accounts for more than half the world’s tuna production.
The real price of tuna
In 2012, total exports of tuna from the Philippines amounted to 124.1 thousand metric tons, valued at USD 454.5 million. These numbers, however, can be deceiving.
“Most canned tuna from the Philippines are not labeled and produced for different global brands; hence their profit margins are very low. This is why prices of canned tuna are the cheapest,” said Ingles.
“Consumers need to know that the price of canned tuna being sold in supermarkets does not fully represent the value of the product and its cost to the environment,” added Ingles.
Promoting sustainable tuna fisheries
“The tuna fishing industry needs to apply best management practices to ensure the sustainability of this commercially-valuable ocean resource, which is a source of food and livelihood for millions of people,” said Ingles. “Not doing so would mean the collapse not only of economies, but the lives of those who directly depend on this industry.”
To address problems plaguing tuna fisheries in the region, WWF has been working closely with national governments and tuna fishers through Fisheries Improvement Projects aimed at transforming the industry and ushering it onto a more sustainable path.
Through the Asia Pacific Sustainable Seafood and Trade Network, a regional network formed to advance seafood sustainability in the Asia Pacific region, WWF aims to link source and demand markets and bring about more responsible seafood production, trade, retail, and consumption.
“By linking responsible tuna producers in the Coral Triangle with consumer countries in North America and Europe, for example, we can harness the power of business-to-business partnerships and create a more equitable sharing of benefits derived from this industry,” said Ingles.
“Through these infographics, we hope that consumers will start asking hard-hitting questions such as where their seafood comes from and whether these are from responsible sources. Through such, we hope to incite more investments on responsible tuna from the market side of this huge industry.”