Tuna Handline fishing is an important component of the Philippines’ fishing industry, 80 percent of which is centered here in General Santos City, the country’s “Tuna Capital.”

Tuna Handline Fishing Boat

A tuna handline fishing boat at the General Santos City Fishport Development Authority Compound

The sector consists of 2,500 outrigger boats, employs over 40,000 fishermen, and lands over 30,000 MT of high-value tuna each year. The TUNA handline fishing sector posts annual revenues of around P4.5 billion, with the frozen sashimi processing sector accounting for more than 50 % of this figure or P2.5 billion in total export earnings.

Handline fishing uses the traditional hook and line method and is considered one of the best means of catching large tuna and marlin. The method is also eco-friendly as handline fishermen catch only  mature fish and so is prudent in terms of fish resource management.

Last year, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed into law Republic Act 9379 or “An Act Defining Handline Fishing, Providing Effective Regulations Therefore and for Other Purposes,” which frees the handline sector from restrictive government policies and sets more practical manning and registration requirements for hand-line operators and fisherfolk.

South Cotabato First District Representative Darlene Antonino-Custodio sponsored the handline bill in the Lower House, while Senators Ramon Magsaysay, Manuel Roxas and Senate President Manuel Villar sponsored the counterpart bill in the Senate.

RA 9379 defines commercial handline fishing as “a traditional, passive fishing method which utilizes a single line and an attached hook.” A commercial tuna handline fishing vessel, on the other hand, is defined as “a commercial fishing vessel that exclusively utilizes the commercial hand-line fishing method.”

Under the new law, a tuna handline boat master need not be a licensed boat captain, and will be issued a license by MARINA once he or she undergoes theoretical and practical training. Further, boat engine officers  are not required to have college graduate diplomas or to be licensed as boat engineers if they completed the training required by MARINA.

Moreover, RA 9379 clearly specifiies the roles of Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR). The registration, inspection, manning and other documentation requirements of tuna handline fishing boats as “flag” boats will be done by MARINA, while the licensing and related documentation of these vessels as fishing boats will fall under the mandate of BFAR.

To better understand, how tuna handline fishermen catch these big, giant tuna, here is a video I got from Youtube of the similar traditional fishing method practiced by fishermen in Maldives.  I couldn’t find anywhere else a video with Pinoy or GenSan fishermen in it.  Anyway, here goes…

Source: GEM

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