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High export tax stumbling block for fishing firms

By Bernadette H. Carreon

KOROR (Palau Horizon, April 7, 2009) - Tuna fishing firms in the Philippines were unable to seal joint venture agreements in Palau, according to an official of the fishing federation in General Santos City.

In an internet news, Bayani Fredeluces, executive director of the Socsksargen Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries Inc. (SFFAII) said that there is no significant development during the recent mission here from the Philippines, he is still optimistic that the local tuna fishing firms can soon operate in Palau.

Representatives of 10 local fishing firms met with their counterparts in Koror last March 5-6, in reciprocation of the visit of Palauan tuna executives the previous month.

One of the setbacks, in the joint venture was the allege hefty tax imposed on fish exports.

Palau collects an export tax of US$0.35 per kilo on tuna and tuna-like species caught in its waters.

Local tuna firms also proposed setting up an alternative transshipment point in Palau’s southern territory to cut on operation costs once formal joint venture deals are achieved.

The Palau Fishing Association earlier said that it is working out an arrangement with the fishing federation in the Philippines to ensure a joint fishing venture.

Earlier, a meeting was conducted between fisheries officials and fishing companies in Palau in General Santos City.

The PFA agreed to bring the issues of the tuna firms to the Palau government.

To address this setback, a measure was recently introduced in the Senate which will exempt for a period of five years the export of tuna and tuna-like species caught using the group purse seining or handline fishing method from Palau’s fish export tax.

The bill will allow for an alternate transshipment port for fish caught using the group purse seining or handline fishing method.

A group purse seining" is a fishing method utilizing a net with a series of rings at its bottom. The "handline fishing" meanwhile is a fishing method utilizing a hook and line and passive fishing gear.

The bill also designate landing ports in General Santos City, Philippines as a transshipment port for fish caught by a group purse seining or handline fishing operation.

The bill has been passed on first reading and is now with the Senate Committee on Resources, Commerce and Trade.

Earlier the Palau Fishing AssocSFFAII and the Palau Fishing Association, which is represented by its president Emiliano Kazuma, have signed a memorandum of understanding whereby the latter agreed to bring the issues raised by the Filipinos to its government.

Philippine firms that have expressed reciprocal interest in the were TSP Marine Industries, Citra Mina Seafoods Group, NH Agro Industrial Corp., Amadeo Fishing Corp., Rugela Fishing Industry, San Lorenzo Ruiz Fishing Industry, Trinity Homes Industrial Development Corp., DFC Tuna Ventures, RD Fishing Industry, Inc., Ramona Fishing, Inc., Far East Seafood, Inc., and Gladery Fishing, Inc.

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