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Philippines And Indonesia Adopt Tuna Fisheries Consortium

Indonesia has formally adopted a proposed fisheries consortium with the Philippines that will eventually grant Philippine-based tuna fishing vessels access into Indonesia’s tuna-rich fishing grounds.
Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said Indonesian President resident Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono accepted the proposed agreement from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during the 5th Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines-East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Leaders Summit at the Dusit Thani hotel here on Saturday.

Remonde said the two leaders agreed to immediately commission a joint technical working group composed of Indonesian and Philippines fishery officials to work out the details of the proposed agreement.

“This is a significant breakthrough because in effect, the proposal will expand the fishing grounds of our tuna fishing companies,” he told reporters.

Remonde said the proposed deal will mainly benefit the Philippines’ tuna industry, which is based in General Santos City.

Dubbed the Philippines’ tuna capital, General Santos City hosts six of the country’s eight tuna canneries, employing around 120,000 workers.

A report from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources showed that Indonesia's fishing grounds supply at least 80,000 tons of tuna annually to the area's tuna canneries and other related industries.

During the last two years, the Philippines has been trying to secure a new bilateral fishing agreement with Indonesia after the initial five-year deal expired in December 2005.

The agreement earlier allowed Philippine fishermen to “catch tuna and tuna-like species within the Indonesian Exclusive Economic Zone.”

Under the agreement, special licenses were given for Philippine vessels—75 catcher ships, 150 fish carriers, 20 long liners, 300 light boats and 10 single purse seiners. The pact also allowed access to the Pacific and Indian Ocean areas of the Indonesian EEZ.

The agreement also allowed off-loading and re-supplying access of Philippine fishermen to 10 Indonesian ports.