To improve the accuracy and reliability of annual tuna catch estimates in the Philippines, the Department of Agriculture-National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (DA-NFRDI) spearheaded the 17th PTUNASTAT Annual Catch Estimates Review Workshop on May 23-24, 2024 in Tagaytay City. The activity was organized in collaboration with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), and Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC).

NFRDI Executive Director Dr. Lilian Garcia delivered an opening message in behalf of DA Undersecretary for Fisheries Drusila Esther Bayate. Emphasizing the critical importance of the review workshop in enhancing the sustainable management of one of the most commercially important fishery products in the country, Dr. Garcia articulated that, “the Philippines has been actively involved in tuna fishery data collection since 2006, supported by various projects and funding sources. The data collected through the BFAR National Stock Assessment Project (NSAP) serves as the cornerstone for tuna stock assessments, enabling us to make informed decisions for the sustainable management of our fisheries.”

She further expressed that despite the challenges, the government will continue to support and empower the fisherfolks by providing them with the necessary tools and equipment to enable them to fish responsibly and sustainably.

Before the workshop activities commenced, WPEA Project Leader Suzette Barcoma presented the outputs and recommendations from the previous PTUNASTAT workshop conducted in May 2023. WCPFC Representative Elaine Garvilles, for her part, presented and discussed the requirements of the WCPFC for the annual catch estimates, as well as current issues with the Philippine annual tuna catch.

In a show of productive collaboration, key stakeholders including government agencies, industry representatives, and relevant organizations, explored ways on how to improve data collection and management practices.

Among the highlights of the review workshop include: a report on the progress of logsheets data collection and the implementation of the Integrated Marine Environment Monitoring System (IMEMS) by BFAR personnel Joem Manalo, and the presentation of the preliminary assessment of Philippine tuna catches under the tropical tuna measure by Dr. Tiffany Vidal from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).

In fulfillment of the primary objective of the activity, representatives from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Philippine Fisheries Development Authority (PFDA), and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) presented their existing data on annual tuna catches, which was then validated and submitted to the WCPFC. ### (Vanessa Mae Escaño)