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No Hope For 352 Missing Tuna Fishermen Philippines, January 18, 13

The Philippine government has stopped searching for the 352 missing tuna fishermen, more than a month after typhoon Pablo hit the country’s southern Mindanao island. It will instead focus on support and rehabilitation operations, which include delivering aid to survivors of the natural disaster.
As of Jan. 10, of the 378 fishermen who were reported missing in the days following Pablo, only 18 have been rescued alive and only eight bodies have been recovered. This leaves 352 crew members unaccounted for and presumably dead, in addition to the hundreds of families coming to terms with the loss of their loved ones.
The Philippine Navy and Coast Guard were involved in the search and rescue mission, as well as a U.S. Navy surveillance aircraft, but the efforts were largely futile. The U.S. Navy did not report any sightings and the Philippine operations were limited by a lack of resources and recurring bad weather. Their search and rescue missions were interrupted at least four times.

The failed efforts have raised concerns about the country’s outdated Huey helicopters, which are from the Vietnam War, and point to the need for planes that are equipped to carry out search and rescue missions; designed to fly in rough weather in the open seas and able to accommodate 10-12 stretchers.

The fishermen might also have been found if their vessels had been equipped with a vessel monitoring system (VMS), as required by the regional fisheries management organization for all tuna fishing vessels. The fishing vessels that went missing did not have VMS, which tracks location. Instead they had GPS and radio communications, equipment that is vulnerable to the elements of the weather.
The missing fishermen were employed by at least 10 fishing companies. Their immediate families are still getting the usual cash advances from the companies, as if the crews are still fishing, but this will not last long and is another harsh reality of the tragedy.
The fishing companies have promised to give priority in hiring them once they replace their lost fleet – 50 vessels valued at about USD 15.6 million – and resume operations, but so far they are offering little in compensation. According to local reports, one fishing company is offering about USD 1,200 to the affected families in exchange for a signed waiver and quitclaim.
The city government is also reportedly preparing to financially assist the families of the missing fishermen, but the amount has yet to be determined.