MAMBURAO, Occidental Mindoro -- In some parts of the country, it is the literal mineral that seamen try to dredge. But in Mindoro, it is mining the living and flipping the "new gold of the sea" -- the yellowfin tuna.
Already established as a source of livelihood for the island, fisherfolk in Occidental Mindoro are keen to market the brimming supply of tuna for sport fishing.
"If you talk about tuna sport fishing, we want Mindoro to be the first thing that pops in your mind," Bernie Castellano of the Occidental Mindoro Federation of Tuna Fishers Association said in a press conference for the annual Mimaropa Festival held in Mamburao.
"We want to market tuna sport fishing because we've been hearing a lot from people who want to visit Mindoro just to experience catching tuna. Yellow fin tuna is considered new gold of the sea," Castellano said.
Yellowfin fishing has been a booming industry for Occidental Mindoro for the past few years as tuna's behavioral patterns change. The pelagic fishes mostly caught in the coastal waters of Mindanao are now thriving in the Mindoro Strait, which connects the natural resources-rich West Philippine Sea and Sulu Sea.
What makes Mindoro tuna special is its freshness given the distance from the fishing grounds to the port.
"We have high quality tuna because the shoal is just three hours away from the (tuna) landing area. For example, if it was caught at around 3 a.m., by 6 a.m. we already serve it for consumption, that's how fresh our tuna is in Mindoro," Castellano stressed.
On Nov. 8, San Jose, Occidental Mindoro hosted the third Philippine Tuna Biggest Catch Challenge Mindoro Strait Edition.
The event coincided with the Arawatan and the Mimaropa Festival where contingents from the five provinces of Occidental and Oriental Mindoro, Romblon, Marinduque, and Palawan participated in the street-dancing parade and trade fair.
According to Castillo, the federation already got the nod of the Department of Tourism in promoting the sport fishing event.
"I already talked to Secretary (Bernadette) Puyat, and she asked us to submit a project proposal to assess how the DOT can help promote," he said in Filipino. (PNA)