Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte
Tuna remains the country’s top seafood export. At present, the country’s small-scale tuna fishing industry faces various challenges. It is important to strengthen artisanal tuna fisheries through responsible practices, strong partnerships among stakeholders, adequate management planning and guidance to transform small-scale fisheries to stay at par with international sustainability and equitability standards. In the town of Pasuquin in Ilocos Norte, WWF helps improve local fisheries management and ensures the sustainability of the small-scale tuna handline industry. Handline fishing is a traditional and environmentally-sound method of catching large tuna species like Yellowfin (Thunnus albacares) and Bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus) through the use of a single hook.
The project is another way of reducing the massive strain brought about by commercial fisheries to the country’s marine resources.
The program – a collaboration between WWF-Philippines, the local government of Pasuquin, the Ilocos Norte provincial government, local fishing groups and the private sector – proves that local nonprofits, the corporate fishing sector, and local communities can work as one to provide critical solutions to marine conservation challenges.
Sustainable Handline Yellow Fin Tuna Initiatives
WWF's Partnership Programme Towards Sustainable Tuna (PPTST) supports the livelihood of artisanal tuna handline fishers by establishing long-term market access and responsible fisheries management while providing mechanisms to supply selectively-caught yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares) to market actors and environmentally conscious consumers in Europe. The ultimate goal of the project is to secure Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification for this highly selective fishery.
The project is implemented in two project sites – Mindoro Occidental (with one province) for the western Philippines and Lagonoy Gulf (with three provinces) for the east. The initiative seeks to improve the livelihoods of more than 5500 artisanal fishers in 21 municipalities from the abovementioned provinces.
Efforts to improve fisheries management have been very successful. Newly-established tuna handline fishers' organisations are starting to take on greater responsibilities in the tuna fisheries management process. Municipal and provincial fisheries management bodies have been revitalized and mobilized, escalating their roles in the management process. An MSC pre-assessment is in the works to devise a detailed roadmap towards the certification of these fisheries. A parallel initiative is also being undertaken in the small fishing village of Pasuquin in Ilocos Norte. Training sessions on tuna handling and improved links to market systems for better economic benefits have been undergone by some 300 small yellowfin handline fishers. It is envisioned that the programme will expand to nearby municipalities with strong support from the provincial fisheries office.