Fishermen group accuses 3 nations of ‘ocean grab’-A A +A
Thursday, November 1, 2012
MABALACAT CITY - Fishermen in Central Luzon belonging to the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) accused the governments of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan of ocean grabbing.
The group issued the statement a day after Olivier de Schutter, the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, warned governments that small fishermen, local fishing communities and sustainable fishing are threatened by ocean grabbing or long-distance, industrial-scale trawling.
Pamalakaya national chairperson and Anakpawis nominee Fernando Hicap denounced the ocean grabbing and invasion of Japanese, Taiwanese and South Korean industrial fishing fleets in the waters of Aurora province.
The foreign fishing vessels are regularly monitored by small fishermen in the area.
Hicap said Japanese, Taiwanese and South Korean industrial fleets are seen catching first rate tuna off the waters of Aurora, which is part of Asia Pacific Ocean.
Huge industrial fishing fleets owned by Japanese, Taiwanese and South Korean tuna operators are periodically seen from January to July every year.
In 2008, fishermen reported seeing long-line fishing gears being used in the hauling of tuna, blue marlin and other high value fish species.
According to Hicap, small fishermen told his group that foreign fishing vessels even entered in the 15-kilometer municipal fishing waters from the shoreline.
The Pamalakaya official also noted that Senator Edgardo Angara in 2008 revealed that there were eight foreign fishing vessels, some with canneries were seen almost daily during the months from January to July.
The senator even asked the Philippine Coast Guard to establish a station in Northern Aurora and assign patrol boats to protect the province's waters from foreign poachers.
Pamalakaya said a 3,000-ton tuna factory ship, accompanied by support fishing fleets, can catch as much as 150 metric tons of tuna on a 24-hour operation basis. By industry standard, a single factory ship could harvest 50,000 metric tons of tuna per year.
Pamalakaya stated that if there are eight Japanese tuna fishing vessels that regularly poach in the waters of Aurora province daily from January to July that means a total haul of 27,000 tons of tuna per factory ship during the period or 216,000 metric tons of tuna for all eight fishing vessels.
According to Pamalakaya’s computation, the owners of the eight fishing vessels could have earned as much as US$1.274 billion or US$ 160 million per fishing vessel in just six months from tuna poaching in Aurora and other tuna-rich waters of the Philippine territory.
Japan is known to consume 630,000 tons of tuna per year or 11 pounds of tuna per person. With the current shrinking catch in Japan seas and in the Philippines as its’ one of the major sources of tuna in Southeast Asia, particularly the country’s fishing areas with confirmed rich tuna deposits like the Moro Gulf and Celebes Sea in Mindanao, the Northern Aurora waters and other tuna potential areas across the Philippine archipelago.
Japan was once a leading tuna producer in Asia and in the world, but was overtaken by Taiwan in recent years. The other tuna producers are the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea and China. Japan is now reviving its interest in tuna, because of the scarcity of supply and high demand for tuna which is equivalent to lucrative business and promise of huge return on Japanese investments.
With the increase in the supply of tuna produced by Japanese factory ships and their shipment to Japan and other countries, the local tuna producers and small tuna fishermen would be at their mercy by way of depressed prices, or worst when tuna stocks in Philippine EEZ are depleted it could lead to supply constraints and closure of local tuna producers’ of livelihood of 180,000 tuna fishermen and fish workers, both leaders claimed.
Pamalakaya said the situation is very, very alarming. The Philippine waters which is part of the country’s national territory has become an open city for foreign fishing plunderers led by Japanese tuna fishing interests yet the Japanese government is not making any decisive action to stop this “gang rape" of Philippine tuna stocks" by Japanese tuna factory ships.
Pamalakaya said there are 3.23 million vessels operate in marine waters and the remaining 1.13 million vessels conduct fishing activities in inland waters. It said it depicts a global situation of unbridled exploitation of marine and inland resources both on oceans and onshore waters like tuna fishing undertaken by Japanese, South Korean and Taiwanese fishing fleets off the waters of Aurora.
The group said Asia has the largest fleet with a total number of 3.18 million or 73 percent of the world’s total, followed by Africa with 11 percent, Latin America and the Carribean with 8 percent, North America with 3 percent and Europe with 3 percent.
Pamalakaya said ocean grabbing forced global fish production to reach 150.4 million tonnes in 2011 with marine capture contributing 90.4 million tonnes courtesy of coercive and destructive fishing efforts in oceans and onshore waters.
“These investments fueled by transnational and state subsidies to fishing giants occupying major fishing oceans and waters all over the country led to grandslam exploitation of marine resources to the detriment of the marginalized fisherfolk and the global public in general. And the World Bank is a major culprit here as instrument of WTO,” the group maintained.
According to UN FAO 2010 report published this year, in terms of value, 67 percent of the fishery exports of underdeveloped fishing nations were served in silver platter to developed nations, of which, 54 percent were directed to US, Japan and the European Union.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on November 02, 2012.