WTO fish-subsidy written in blank space – Filipino fisherfolk
Manila, Philippines – Small-scale fisherfolk belonging to the group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) downplays the World Trade Organization (WTO) proposal to cut fisheries subsidies on its member states, saying small and subsistent fisherfolk across the globe have not even felt the subsidies since the free-trade agreement has commenced. The proposal mainly came from the European Union (EU) which seeks to achieve the 2020 targets set out in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
In a statement, the group, which also a member of the across-the-world fishers network World Forum of Fisher Peoples (WFFP), said they didn’t even notice that there is an existing subsidy because it never reaches through them.
“The fishing sector across the globe especially those in the third world countries remain poorest of the poor, this is mainly because of the anti-fishing laws and programs from their respective states, plus the lack of subsidies and government support that will uplift their impoverished lives,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
Hicap said that in the Philippines, the government allots P100 million annually for the modernization of fishing industry under the Fisheries Code of 1998, but said it is actually meant for large-scale commercial fishing corporations instead to the small fisherfolk. That is the reason why fishing sector in the country still remains backward. Citing the data of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), only 32% of fisherfolk in a municipal level owns mechanized boats with only 3-16 horsepower, while 68% still uses backward and primitive fishing gears like paddled boats and fishing rods, some don’t even own any fishing gear at all.
PAMALAKAYA said fisheries subsidy per se has nothing to do with overcapacity and overfishing of our marine resources, the WTO just uses the subsidy wrong. The group instead proposes that the subsidy be converted to the small-scale and subsistent fisherfolk in order to modernize their backward fishing gear and be able to keep pace with the large-scale commercial fishing fleets that exploit the fishing waters allotted for municipal fisherfolk.
The group also lashes out at the European Union (EU) for its misconception on the illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUUF) which leads countries like ours to set stricter fishing rules and regulations which make the small fishers the biggest losers. The requirement of free-trade agreements like the WTO to export tons after tons of fish products to foreign markets fuel these kinds of illegal and unregulated activities in the seas because commercial fishers seem to be on a race to cater the needs of the foreign markets like the European Union.
The fisherfolk group demands genuine and sufficient state-subsidies and support to advance their productivity and to end the long-standing export-oriented local production in order to sustain the country’s food security.
The WTO’s 11th Ministerial Conference will be held in Buenos Aires on December 2017. ###
Ph negotiators told to review position on China-led RCEP
Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Monday urged the Filipino negotiators in the 18th meeting of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to review the guidelines and context of the inter-regional free trade and economic pact before ratifying into agreements.
The 18th RCEP meeting, which is being hosted by the Philippines started on May 2 and will end on May 12. The country’s main negotiator on the meeting is the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
RCEP is China-led mega-regional free trade agreement that covers half of the world’s population, 38% of the world economy and nearly 30% of the world’s trade volume. China aims to reach the agreement by the end of 2017 or early 2018. It is Beijing’s counter free trade agreement to U.S.-led Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement which U.S. President Donald Trump has recently pulled out.
For its part, the fisherfolk group expresses doubt on why the RCEP is being negotiated in secret like the TPP and other past free trade agreements. The group said it is the prerogative of the public to be involved in a pre-consultation before entering into any agreement especially if it involves the country’s economic affairs. Past free trade agreements that were also secretly negotiated surprised the people that their sovereign and economic rights were already compromised and sold to powerful nations that lead the trade pact.
On UN’s World Food Day, fishers cry over empty nets and perpetual hunger
Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) together with the peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) staged a protest in front of the Department of Agriculture (DA) on the occasion of the United Nation’s (U.N.) World Fisheries Day.
The World Food Day is celebrated every October 16 after the UN established the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO) on the same day in 1981.
The farmers and fishers dubbed the occasion as a World Hunger Day to refute the UN’s declaration. The protesters said this is the irony of the century for the food producers; the fishers and farmers are the ones who suffer from chronic hunger and poverty. Two of the country’s food producers are on the top list of the country’s poorest sector; with the fisherfolk as the poorest with 39.2% poverty rate while farmers with 34%, according to Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
The fisherfolk group pinned the foreign-dictated neo-liberal policies that further the backwardness and exacerbated the export-oriented and import-dependent character of our fishing industry to the detriment of small fishers and other local food producers. Since we are introduced to neo-liberal schemes like World Trade Organization (WTO) and Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), our marine export has dramatically risen to 120% since 1994 up to present. This is despite the country’s 15% local fish stock loss yearly, according to UNFAO.
The era of neo-liberalization has triggered the exploitation and depletion of global fish stocks. Since the formalization of WTO, the FAO reported that 52 percent of the global fish stocks were fully exploited or depleted, 20 percent were moderately exploited and only 1 percent showed signs of recovery.
Fisherfolk group not impressed with Senator Marcos’ lip service against Fisheries Code
Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya-Pilipinas) on Friday expressed doubt on Senator Bongbong Marcos’ position to review the adverse impact of the amended Fisheries Code.
Senator Marcos on Monday backed the fisherfolk who calls to repeal the amended Fisheries Code or the Republic Act 10654.
In a statement, Pamalakaya expressed its skepticism on the Senator’s statement because according to them, his Father, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos decreed into law the predecessor of the Fisheries Code on May 16, 1975 – the Presidential Decree No. 704.
Euro fish to flood Manila if bilateral trade deal is Ok’d
By Gerry Albert Corpuz and Trinity Biglang Awa
Manila, Philippines– Small fishermen identified with the activist fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said once the Philippine government approves a bilateral free trade pact with the European Union, imported fish from member states of EU will flood the local market to the detriment of subsistence fishermen across-the-country.
Quoting a study made by Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PDIS), Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France said the small-scale fishermen are the biggest losers in the one-sided deal since they will face increasing competition with highly subsidized and cheap fish imports from European countries.
APC joins Global Day of Action against WTO
The Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) joins the Global Day of Action against WTO, led by the Indonesian People’s Alliance (IPA), as the 9th World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference concluded on 6th December at the Nusa Dua Convention Center in Bali, Indonesia.
By Gerry Albert Corpuz in Manila, Philippines and Chitato Artidyo and Keluar Ramayana-Bintang in Bali, Indonesia
BALI, Indonesia– Farmer organizations calling for the dismantling of World Trade Organization (WTO) and system change rebuked the statement of WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo that farmers of developing countries will be the losers if the new round of the WTO failed to approve the Bali Package.