The Department of Agriculture (DA) said the municipality of Dingalan in Aurora province is being developed to be another tuna capital of the Philippines, after General Santos City in Mindanao.
DA said the third-class municipality, located 183 kilometers northeast of Metro Manila, has one main cemented road and branching alleys as well as a 13-million-hectare undersea extinct volcanic ridge which can serve as a haven for spawning and nurseries for oceanic tuna species, including the endangered Pacific bluefin.
Wilfredo Cruz, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR)-Central Luzon director, has submitted a proposal for the construction of a fish port that will also serve as a dock and refuge for all vessels during typhoons and station for the Philippine Coast Guard.
Cruz said the agency will assist the municipal government of Dingalan in organizing a fisherfolk cooperative to help members qualify for assistance to procure bigger boats like a 62-footer fiberglass carrier boat with 12 smaller catcher boats, aside from putting up bigger cold storage and processing facilities.
Meanwhile, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said he will instruct the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority and the BFAR head office to conduct a feasibility study on the establishment of a fish port complex in Dingalan and a wholesale fish market in Rosales, Pangasinan.
Dar said the sashimi grade tuna from Dingalan can be flown out of the country through Clark International Airport while various fish produce from Pangasinan, Aurora, Zambales and Central Luzon can also be consolidated in Rosales, to be distributed to north, central and north-eastern Luzon and even to Metro Manila.
Dingalan has about 300 fishing boats and 20 commercial fishing vessels and a community fish landing center as well as a small processing facility for tuna that produces limited quantities of sliced sashimi, belly, jaw and tail for select markets.