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Tuna Companies Blamed For Massive Fishermen Tragedy Philippines, December 10, 12

310 tuna fishers still missing
Militant fisherfolk group Pamalakaya is blaming tuna companies based in General Santos City for the hundreds of Philippine fishermen still lost at sea, after typhoon Pablo struck the country’s southern Mindanao province last week. The group says the companies ignored storm advisories to pursue “their perpetual thirst for precious tuna.”
“These tuna firms were advised to temporarily shelve their operations because of the incoming storm. But they did not heed to the advisory and instead they pursued their perpetual thirst for precious tuna and gambled the lives of fish workers,” Fernando Hicap, Pamalakaya national chairperson told local media.
Philippine authorities confirmed 310 fishermen, from six major tuna companies, are still missing. The government has sent at least five vessels to conduct search and rescue, and it expects to dispatch two more patrol boats from the port of Mati on Monday night.
As of Saturday, Rugela Fishing, RAFI Incorporated, RLG Fishing, DSG Fishing, LPS Fishing and Salazar Fishing had acknowledged that 46 tuna fishing boats and its crew members were still unaccounted for. They submitted documents that identified their missing crew and provided details such as the number of workers on board each vessel.
Hicap said he was surprised when the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), stationed in General Santos, continued to allow fleets to fish for tuna last week, despite the weather alerts about Pablo. He said the government should determine the accountability of the six tuna fishing companies and investigate the possible criminal negligence of PCG officials who gave the go-ahead to tuna boat owners.
Pablo was one of the strongest typhoons to hit the Philippines this year, with forceful winds of 175 km/h and gusts of up to 220 km/h. The storm hit Mindanao island last Tuesday and triggered flash floods that killed more than 600 people. Nearly 400,000 people are now homeless and 900 people are missing, including the tuna fishermen.