Corporate News

Frabelle to start fishing in Benham Rise by May

Posted on April 26, 2016

FRABELLE CORP. is set to start fishing next month in Benham Rise, the country’s newest marine territory, hoping to bring in P300 million in revenues.

Frabelle Corp. will start fishing in Benham Rise next month. -- HTTPS://WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/FRABELLEFOODS
“It is a new area that we have, and it is a new fishing ground previously unexplored by our company so we see opportunity to catch some good quantities of fish for markets,” Frabelle President Frannie T. Laurel, Jr. said in an e-mail interview.

Considering that Benham Rise lies in a typhoon belt, Mr. Laurel said Frabelle’s operations in the area will be for a maximum of seven months.

“Assuming that we catch about 500 tons a month at $1,700 per ton, that would be equivalent to about $5.95 million (P278.965 million) for seven months,” he said.

The firm will deploy $7-million worth of floating assets to Benham Rise for initial operations, the official said.

The vessels to be sent to the area will include a 1000-ton purse seine with a helicopter on board, to be supported by two scout boats.

“We will also deploy a tanker to the area to resupply the fleet if needed,” Mr. Laurel said.

Mr. Laurel likewise expressed interest to move the company’s vessels so as to fish in other waters such as the Atlantic, Indian, and Eastern Pacific Oceans. Frabelle also plans to acquire shares in other fleets around the world.

Asked on the company’s financial performance last year, Mr. Laurel described it as “so-so” due to the El Niño phenomenon. He said the volume of the company’s fish catch was still adequate, but its income was pulled down by unprofitable prices for its products.

“This year that the El Niño will be over soon, catch and price have gone down to normal levels and we see 2016 as a good year overall,” he said, adding that the company does not target to increase fish catch this year so as to stabilize prices for the industry.

Frabelle usually catches around 130,000 tons of fish annually, according to Mr. Laurel.

Discussions with government authorities on Frabelle’s intended exploration in Benham Rise happened as early as last year, Mr. Laurel said.

In 2012, the Philippines won its claim over the Benham Rise under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and has since conducted experiments showing bigger sizes of fishes and the presence of various species of tuna in the area.

According to Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Director Asis G. Perez, Frabelle is so far the only big private corporation set to fish in Benham Rise. -- Janina C. Lim