Safeguard Duties on Fisheries Sought

Article excerpt

Byline: BERNIE CAHILES-MAGKILAT

The government is urged to exempt and impose special safeguard measure on the country's 87 tariff lines, mostly tunalike species, round scad (galunggong), herring and sardines, from the ASEAN fishery integration program saying further liberalization of this sector would kill the artisenal (small-scale) fisherfolk not just in the Philippines.

Arsenio Tanchuling, regional coordinator of the SEAFISH (South East Asia) Network, said the Philippines is already following the 0-5 percent tariff rates for these products while other countries are still protecting their fishery products.

In calling for a special safeguard measure, Tanchuling said the Philippines should put these 87 fishery tariff lines under the Exclusion List of the Common Effective Preferential Tariff but which listed only shrimp products.

The Philippines should also work for the retention of the quantitative restriction where importation of marine products cannot be done via the wet markets but only through canneries.

With the fishery integration program in ASEAN, Tanchuling said, it is inevitable that even fishes intended for the wet markets would go to the export market. The wet market in the country is still protected by quantitative restrictions under the Fisheries Code.

Moves to protect the domestic fishery sector came that there is no conservation efforts in the region.

"If these products are traded freely without effective management effort then there is the danger of overfishing and eventual collapse of the fishery sector in the country," Tanchuling said.

There is also the threat of influx of similar fishery products from more developed sector like commercial fishing sectors of ASEAN.

Tanchuling was critical of the "free-trade integration roadmap" for failing to consider the biological limits to fisheries productivity and the consequent danger that the free flow of fishery products within and out of the region will lead to overfishing and, ultimately, to the collapse of fisheries production. …