Jpepa to open RP tuna fishing to Japan fleet

By Ayen Infante
Published on the September 13, 2007 issue of The Daily Tribune

Nationalist trade group Fair Trade Alliance (FTA) demanded yesterday that the government corrects with Japan discrepancies in the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (Jpepa) that would open the local fisheries trade to massive exploitation by Japan’s modern fishing fleet.

FTA executive director Rene Ofreneo told reporters the Jpepa, after a closer scrutiny of the 1,000-page partnership text, shows huge disadvantages to the Philippines while allowing Japan greater access to Philippines’ sensitive sectors such as fisheries.

Ofreneo was referring to a provision that allows Japan factory ships and fishing vessels in the Philippines to freely roam around the 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) which could deprive Filipino fishermen of “catches and livelihood” bringing “greater risk of depleting the country’s reserve tuna stocks.”

He added the same provision agreed by both parties is a violation of the Fisheries Act.

“What is amazing is the creativity of the Japanese negotiators (with the cooperation of the Philippine negotiators) to put the different unequal provisions on factory ships and fisheries under seemingly separate chapters of the draft treaty,” he said.

FTA also questioned the presence of several provisions involving fishing under the agreement. “The true picture is that with skyrocketing prices of tuna (yellowfin, big-eye, skipjack) in Japan due to reported overexploitation in the Atlantic, Central Pacific, Indian Ocean, commercial fishing has become lucrative,” he said.

The areas in Philippine EEZ being targeted by Japan’s commercial fishing includes the Philippine Sea (eastern part of the Philippines) which runs from Batanes down to Davao, the Celebes/Sulu Sea and the South China Sea (western part of Palawan), which are regularly poached by Taiwan, China, Indonesia and Vietnam’s fishing vessels as indicated by several reported apprehensions of their fishing vessels.

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