Up until several years ago, the Tuna Boats used to offload their cargo of fish on Lion Beach situated on the shore of Sarangani Bay near to the main Gen San Wet Market! Thankfully, the Japanese Government put in money to build a new Fish Port Complex just outside of the City! I say thankfully because Lion Beach was a very heavily polluted area both in the water and on land so it was a good move to construct a new and much cleaner complex away from the City Proper!
The new Fish Port Complex is the Main Tuna Landing in the Philippines and also there are many other species of Fish and Marine Creatures landed there every day of the year! Market 1 is the Tuna Landing and every day and is a very interesting sight to see, starting very early in the morning, the organised chaos begins as the port comes to life! The Tuna Boats bring in their catch, all these fish are hooked on hand lines so the catch is considered to be a sustainable method of catching fish even by Green Peace! The fish are offloaded manually and each fish is carried up to Market 1 on the shoulder of a labourer to the Weighing Scales, On many occasions, the fish weighs more than the person carrying it! Once the fish are weighed, they are laid out for sale where the would be licensed buyers come along and check the fish for freshness by taking small core samples of the meat with a special purpose made device! Once sold, the fish are moved into the area of the buyer where they are gutted and then put on ice if they are for export or transported directly to the Fish Factories for Preparation and Canning, to Local Markets for sale to the general public or transported on ice by truck to markets all over Mindanao!
There are always some creatures caught as a bi-catch such as Sharks, Sword Fish, Marlin and Moon Fish which is a very strange looking fish a bit like an Ocean Sun Fish! The bi-catch on many occasions is good for export and is shipped out along with the Tuna to locations mostly in the USA and Japan! The Sharks, minus their valuable fins are sold on the local markets as are the poorer quality of the other species! The Export fish is usually chilled down in ice water in order to make it as cold as possible so that it will survive the journey better to its final destination! The Heads, Tails, Jaw and Belly are removed and sold on for local consumption, the heads and tails are used in soup while the jaws and bellies are wonderful when barbecued! The main Carcase is cleaned and packed and sealed in an air cargo box along with insulation and some Dry Ice! This whole operation is very fast and most of the export fish are sent out on the early morning PAL Flights to Manila and onward from their to their final destination! The Japanese are very proud and always say that they have the freshest fish in the world but this is not quite correct when it comes from Gen San as we beat them by a day for freshness!
In the initial 3 to 4 hours each morning, Millions of peso’s worth of tuna and other fish change hands sometimes several times even before leaving the complex but the amazing part about all this business is that you do not see actual money changing hands for the main sales, only on the bi-products is cash called for! At the end of the day which is usually before 10 am everybody goes home or where ever the go after work seemingly very happy as they all get paid correctly in the midst of all the confusion and chaos!
Market 2 is the Auction Area for box’s of small fish which have been caught by the boats which use nets to catch the fish and it also houses a small Wet Market where all kinds of fish both Open Ocean and Reef are sold! Unfortunately in this area, many kinds of fish are for sale which are either Endangered or illegal, caught by Dynamite or Cyanide Fishing Methods! The people who should be regulating this area do not do a very good job at all in my mind! Just the other day, there were 13 large Bump Head Parrot Fish on sale, these fish are not illegal to catch but are not a very popular eating fish! The people who caught them probably wiped out the whole family in this one instant leaving no breeding stock behind and with this kind of fish, the market value is not very high at the best of times!
For 365 days a year, the Fish Port Complex carries on with its business off loading fish and sending them on their way to destinations both local and around the world! Its a very interesting place to visit but there are now a lot of restrictions before people are allowed to enter! You must wear White Rain Boots, long trousers, A shirt which covers your arm pits, no cameras are officially allowed, no children or pets are allowed and there are other restriction which sometimes change an a daily basis! This is only for people entering as many of the fishermen who get off the boats are the scruffiest people you ever did see but the regulations do not seem to apply to them! Even with the restrictions, the Fish Port Complex is really worth a visit but i recommend that you have a change of clothes with you as you could easily get “accidentally” splashed with fish blood during your visit!
The Fish Port has had a huge investment by the Chinese government which has increased the area and capability of the port by another 100% but so far nothing is happening with this new development as the fishing industry is in decline for the moment but I am sure that in the future, once the fishing recovers then the market might easily pick up once again! Gen San is a City to which fishing plays a big role in the economy! If anything happens environmentally which could affect the fishing industry it would be a great blow for the city and the area as a whole! Saying that, I hope that the planned Coal Fired Power Station never gets built as the pollutants put out by such a plant could easily have an adverse effect on the area and the economy! I hope that Gen San goes Green and says No to Coal!