PHILIPPINES: Tuna industry appeals to government for support
As the domestic tuna industry in the Philippines faces possible collapse, delegates at the Second Tuna Congress appealed to the Philippine government for intervention to save Philippines fisheries from the impact of powerful global competition.The president of the Federation of Fishing Associations and Allied Industries (SFFAAI), Doming Teng, lobbied for the acceleration of negotiations with Pacific nations concerning fisheries access, and other participants argued for the establishment of a National Tuna Council to set policy and also appealed for a reduction of the 24% tariff on Philippine products in the US market.The Philippines is the seventh largest tuna producer in the world, but the overproduction of canned tuna during 1998 and 1999 has sent the value of the fish spiralling downwards. Prices have halved in the space of three years and the local industry is suffering as a result. Two major firms have now ceased operations and hundreds of workers have been made redundant. Stanley Swerdloff, senior fishery consultant at the USAID-funded Growth with Equity in Mindanao (GEM) Program, remains positive about the long-term benefits of the crisis, explaining, "the least competitive processors [will] drop out while those with imagination and efficiency will expand." But in order to turn the current situation into one than can prove positive for the industry, the government will need to modernise the tuna sector through partnerships with the business community. And failing to act quickly could mean the displacement of over 200,000 jobs.
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