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Global Warming Blamed For Drop In Philippines Tuna Catch; Sea Temps 'A Notch Higher' News Service
December 14, 2007 15:51 EST

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, The Philipines -- Admitting that there has been a steep decline of tuna catch over the last few years, one of the city's biggest tuna producers on Wednesday blamed global warming as among the reasons for the drop in tuna production.

Marfenio Tan, former president of the South Cotabato Purse Seiners Association, said warm temperatures are driving tuna stocks deeper and above the equator line.

"The sea temperatures in our traditional fishing grounds have risen by two or three degrees. And these have affected our tuna catch," Tan said Wednesday.

Tan said they have monitored sea temperatures at 29 to 30 degrees Celsius, a notch higher than the "comfort level" of tuna species at 27 to 28 degrees Celsius.

"We have to address this global problem," he said. Tan likewise tagged rising production cost and stiff competition as key factors to the decline of tuna catch.

"We have many competitors now. The Vietnamese and even China are now into tuna fishing aside from Taiwan which is the world's leading tuna producer," he explained.

The Philippine tuna producers and purse seiners are hard pressed keeping up with Taiwan and Japan because it is lagging in technology.

"The Japanese and the Taiwanese have modern and fast fishing vessels. They can fish anywhere in the world with their fleets and state of the art fishing technology," Tan explained.

The local tuna industry is likewise bearing the brunt of rising fuel costs, which eat up a major chunk of the production cost.

But Tan was quick to add that the decline of tuna catch has not yet reached critical level.

Being highly migratory, however, Tan said new tuna specie may have created new paths due to rising temperatures although he also added that wanton fishing and catching of juveniles in the past are slowly taking its toll in the production.