India, Philippines looking to expand cooperation in tuna, shrimp sectors


India and the Philippines have shown interest in bolstering their bilateral cooperation in the tuna and shrimp sectors to take advantage of their respective potential strengths.

The two countries held the India-Philippines Marine Fisheries and Aquaculture virtual business conference on 27 May, according to The Manila Times.

Indian Ambassador to the Philippines Shambhu Kumaran told the conference the opportunities the two countries can share in through mutual cooperation are potentially enormous.

"In the post-COVID world, health security is really important. But equally important is food security. We must work together to make our food more climate resilient and supply chain more stronger, more vibrant, and dynamic," Kumaran said.

M/S HIC ABF Special Foods Managing Director Cherian Kurian said the two countries have rich potential for sharing tuna-sector resources, as India can produce tuna ready for canning while the Philippines has expertise in tuna processing and canning. India has an estimated tuna resource potential of around 2.13 million metric tons (MT), of which 54 percent of is yellowfin and 40 percent is skipjack. The South Asian country is capable of shipping large volumes of tuna to the Philippines so the latter can make full use of its processing and canning capacity, Kurian said.

For the Philippines, Frabelle Fishing Corporation President Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. said the Philippines’ fishing fleet is eager to operate in India and tuna processors and canners are willing to establish processing facilities there. But Tuna Canners Association of the Philippines Executive Director Francisco Buencamino said it would be more beneficial for Filipino companies to import raw tuna from India and process it in the Philippines, as the island nation enjoys lower duties for its tuna exports to the European Union.

Tuna is a major seafood export item for the Philippines, with sales value of around USD 350 million to USD 400 million (EUR 287.1 million to EUR 328.1 million) annually.

Alsons Agribusiness Unit Vice President Miguel Rene Dominguez said aquaculture firms in the Philippines could benefit hugely from tapping into India’s knowledge on shrimp and crab aquaculture techniques. As the world’s largest shrimp producer and exporter, India can help the Philippines with mitigation and treatment of shrimp diseases, with the goal of increasing the output of Filipino shellfish farms.