Fishy Proceedings in General Santos

We start our day when the clock reads 5am.

It’s too early for the sun to clock in its sunshine but for the many white soled workers of the GenSan MakarFishport Complex, their day has already begun. Strict policy requires all visitors to register in the guard post by the gate while specially sanitized white boots, available for rent at 30 pesos, is a must for everyone entering the premises. As we enter, we are briefed at the Tourism kiosk beside the Administrative building. The Gen San MakarFishport Complex or the GSMFPC is considered to be the model standard in terms of modernity and sanitation. It sits on a 32-hectare lot consisting of 4 market yards, a refrigeration building, an ice plant and other facilities.

It’s now 7:30am and it’s a busy day.

The workers are running about, the occasional shouting of “Kara-kara”, which means “Hurry” in the Visayan vernacular, permeates the weighing scales. For now it’s the busiest area in the Market Yard 1. Tuna is carried by hand and dangled upside down, I saw numbers ranging from 60 to 120 kilos but on some lucky days, they can boast of catching a Tuna weighing up to 300 kilos. Tuna then follows a hierarchy based on its size and meat quality, classified as A-Grade for export, mostly to Japan and the US, B-Grade to be sent to Manila and/or to one of the 8 canneries operating in Gen San and lastly, C-Grade delegated for local consumption. It comes as no surprise then that this industry brings in US$280 million despite reduced production.