SENATOR Cynthia Villar called on the tuna industry association to strengthen collaborative efforts with the government to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing for sustainable tuna fishery.

She emphasized that illegal fishing not only destroys the industry, but it also kills the livelihood of fisherfolks.

Villar cited the warning by experts that Philippine seas would become "virtual deserts" by 2050 due to overfishing as she called for a review of the draft plan and various inputs and recommendations of industry players on the National Tuna Management Plan.

Villar, chair of the Senate committee on agriculture, also mentioned the 2010 Census of Marine Life which says 90 percent of the large fish are already depleted due to overfishing.

Villar called on the tuna industry to promote the effective conservation, management and equitable use of tuna resources in the Philippines for its sustainable development.

She underscored that sustainability is the keyword and one of the most important considerations in order to further grow and develop the tuna industry.

At the same time, she commended the Soccsksargen (South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos) Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries, Inc., for their commitment to combat illegal fishing for sustainable tuna industry.

"It is our common interest to make sure that there is continuous fishing which would only be possible if we prevent all forms of activities that jeopardize the sustainability of our resources," said Villar.

She likewise said the country's Fisheries law will level our fishing at par with other countries, especially in the conservation measures on threatened aquatic species, highly migratory species and other marine resources.

"We have to always bear in mind that our resources are not unlimited, as such, we have to sustain them," she said.

The senator also noted that the tuna industry has a promising future potential as an export industry. (SunStar Philippines)