Pamalakaya protests Japan’s plan to dock ships in RP ports

Pamalakaya protests Japan’s plan to dock ships in RP ports

The militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Thursday rejected the proposal of the Japanese government to allow its international sea vessels to dock in several ports across the country as they await shipment of imported products to foreign countries.

In a press statement, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said the proposal of Japanese government to allow its international cargo ships to anchor in Philippine ports is tantamount to reducing the country into the docking capital of Japan in Southeast Asia.

“The proposal is outrageous and extremely mind-boggling. Imagine Japanese ships carrying Japanese flags and suggesting Japanese control will saturate Philippines ports in the immediate future. This ship invasion of Japan is tantamount to across-the-country violation of the country’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said Hicap.

According to labor and employment secretary Marianito Roque, Japan is eyeing the country to become the lay-up heaven of their international vessels in response to the global economic crisis which continues to slowdown demand on imported products.

The labor chief said he met up with Japanese ship owners last week, and they have initially identified the ports of Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SMBA) and the Malalad Bay in Davao as possible lay up centers for Japanese vessels.

According to Roque, the Philippines is being strongly considered because it is one of the closest neighbors of Japan, and that makes it a cost-efficient area for Japanese ship owners to dock their vessels until a strong demand for shipping cargo returns.

The labor department said there are two kinds of lay ups—one is hot lay up where the crew are still on board the anchored ship and will still get regular pay, and the other one is cold lay up, which would require crew members to leave the ship.

“As far as we are concerned there’s no such thing as RP-Japan docking agreement or RP-Japan visiting vessels agreement. While there is this one-sided and notorious economic pact known as Jpepa (Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement), it does not suggest that the Philippines will accommodate hundreds and thousands of Japanese vessels waiting for strong demands for overseas shipment of imported products,” the Pamalakaya leader added.

Pamalakaya’s Hicap said at present there are more than 3,000 Japanese vessels plying international waters, and the Philippine government will be obliged to provide docking ports for Japanese vessels which want to avail of the country’s major ports all over the country.

The militant group said Japan is also notorious as far as tuna poaching in the country’s waters is concerned citing reported poaching activities of Japanese owned and operated factory ships to fish tuna off the waters of Aurora province from January to July 2008.

In January, Pamalakaya filed a diplomatic protest against the Japanese government against the poaching activities of Japanese fishing vessels in the waters off Aurora province.

The militant group said while cannot ascertain the total tuna haul of Japanese fishing vessels; it said at least eight Japanese fishing vessels, some with canneries were seen almost daily during those months.

Pamalakaya said Japanese tuna poachers used long-line fishing gears in the hauling of tuna, blue marlin and other high value fish species. The group said Japanese fishing vessels even entered in the 15-kilometer municipal fishing waters from the shoreline.

Industry standards said, 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.

“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,” the group said.

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.

“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 and shipping cargo monopolies in Japan,” the group added. #

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