Environmental activist group warns of marine degradation from JPEPA
By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net ENVIRONMENTALIST group Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) warned that that the Japan Philippine Economic Parntership Agreement (JPEPA) would cause more harm to the Philippines' marine reserves and ecosystems, particularly since the trade agreement allows more exports of marine products such as tuna. Kalikasan PNE national coordinator Clemente Bautista said Japan is one of the biggest markets for fish and JPEPA could open doors to exploitation of marine resources, as well as agricultural products, minerals and energy. Citing a report by the Japan Tuna Federation, Bautista said Japan consumes 630,000 tons of tuna per year or 11 pounts per person. "We fear the shrinking catch qoutas will prompt Japan to move more of its giant fishing fleets to exploit Philippine seas and further deplete our country's fish sources and marine ecosystems. When Japanese transnational fishing companies corner the country's tuna resources through the JPEPA, we are sure that many other forms of resource depletion and marine environmental degradtion will follow," Bautista said. Bautista also warned that poor fishing villages, particularly in Mindanao would be incapable of buying fish as they compete with bigger 8,000-ton fishing fleets. "Fish provides 60 percent of food protein source for the average Filipino diet," Bautista said. Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed JPEPA last September 2006 but the agreement has yet to be ratified by the Senate. Critics of JPEPA have contended that it could open the Philippines to Japanese waste imports, which is indicated in Article 29 of the agreement.
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