Pamalakaya assailed Japanese envoy
for snubbing diplomatic protest vs. poachers
The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Friday assailed Japanese Ambassador to Manila Makoto Katsura for sitting on a diplomatic protest filed by the fishers group last week against the poaching activities of Japanese tuna factory ships in Aurora province.
“We don’t deserve this kind of snub and cold treatment. We are raising a very serious matter here,” Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement. According to Hicap, the three-page diplomatic protest was faxed last week to the Japanese embassy in Manila upon the instruction of a Filipina staff of the embassy.
“We did our assignment. The ball is now on the court of the Japanese embassy in Manila to act with dispatch and in accordance with the national and collective interest of the Filipino people,” the Pamalakaya leader added.
Pamalakaya information officer Gerry Albert Corpuz who faxed the three-page diplomatic protest last week said, the Filipina staff of the Japanese embassy in Manila told him that they should first call the attention of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) before writing the embassy.
But Corpuz told the Filipina staff of the Japanese embassy that Pamalakaya’s three-page diplomatic protest was an independent act of his group, adding that DFA is a white elephant and insensitive to the cause of the Filipino fisherfolk and the general public.
“Who are they to tell us what to do?” he added.
The three-page diplomatic protest note was faxed Tuesday afternoon at around 3:00 pm last week was signed by Hicap and Salvador France, Pamalakaya national vice-chairperson for Luzon, and was addressed to the Japanese ambassador to Manila Makoto Katsura.
The protest letter read: “The Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), a national federation of small fisherfolk organization in the Philippines that counts a total mass membership of not less than 100, 000 small fisherfolk across the archipelago is bringing to your attention the alleged poaching activities of Japanese owned and operated factory ships to fish tuna off the waters of Aurora province from January to July 2008.”
It further said: “Honorable Ambassador, the national leadership and mass membership of Pamalakaya in the name of 1.8 million small Filipino fisherfolk and close 90 million Filipino people, strongly condemned this poaching frenzy of Japanese corporate factory ships inside the Philippine waters.”
In their protest letter the Pamalakaya leaders said they view this poaching and invasion activities of Japanese factory ships as gross violations of our national sovereignty and patrimony as people and as a nation, and therefore, we lodge this strongly worded protest in behalf of affected sector and in behalf of the 90 million Filipinos.
Pamalakaya cited a recent interview with Senator Edgardo Angara who revealed that Japanese, Korean and Taiwanese fishing vessels regularly come to Baler Bay in Aurora province between January to July every year to fish for tuna.
In that story, Senator Angara said the haul cannot be ascertained but the lawmaker said eight fishing vessels, some with canneries were seen almost daily during those months. Her sister, Aurora Gov. Bellaflor Angara-Castillo had 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.
According to Aurora provincial fishery officer Victoriano San Pedro, fishermen reported seeing
long-line fishing gears being used in the hauling of tuna, blue marlin and other high value fish species. He said foreign fishing vessels even entered in the 15-kilometer municipal fishing waters from the shoreline.
“Your Honor, to give you an idea on how much a Japanese tuna factory ship could create damage to Philippine tuna resources, a 3,000 Japanese single-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 said.
Let us say 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.
“Honorable Ambassador, the situation is expected to get worse with the Senate ratification of the controversial Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (Jpepa) last October because under the one-sided agreement, the Philippine government fully recognizes the entry of Japanese factory ships into the Philippine waters at the detriment and expense of our small tuna fishermen and the already fragile marine environment,” the group said.
“Mr. Ambassador, your country 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,” added Pamalakaya.
The militant group said 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.
Pamalakaya stressed that the fishing aspect of Jpepa is meant for the benefit and survival of Japan’s commercial tuna fishing at the expense of Filipino tuna producers and small fisherfolk across the archipelago.
“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,” it further 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,” said Pamalakaya.
The militant group was hopeful that the diplomatic protest they filed would reach proper Japanese government authorities including Japan’s lawmaking body—the Japanese Diet for swift, concrete and reasonable resolution and dispatch. #