Group warns vs. shell exports ban – Sun.Star

Source: Sun.Star June 7, 2011

A GROUP yesterday urged the administration of President Benigno Aquino III not to implement a ban on the export of shells and shell products.

The group said a ban will displace two million fishermen who provide for at least eight million dependents.

The ban was suggested by Sen. Miguel Zubiri as an offshoot to the seizures by Bureau of Customs (BOC) of shipments of black sea fan corals. The Senate is investigating the issue.

Joy Sharpe, Antonio Chua, Evelio Francisco, Marcelo Orcullo and 27 other exporters banded together to organize the Shell and Shell Products Industry group. They said they wanted to protect not only their sector but also marginal people around the country who depend on their sector.

Sharpe, president of Asia Trade Corp., which exports shell and shell products, said legitimate exporters condemn the harvesting of black corals by unscrupulous people because it will destroy the environment.

But while they condemn the illegal export of sea corals, they disagreed with Zubiri’s suggestion for a total ban on the export of shells and shell products. They said this will lead to the collapse of their industry.

“We are not only talking here of business but of the welfare of the fishermen and workers of the industry. They should look at the statistics of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR). They should not take away the jobs and livelihood of thousands of Filipinos just because there are a few people who destroy the environment by illegally harvesting black sea corals,” Sharpe said.

Sharpe said that in exporting shells and shell products, they comply with the laws and the rules and regulations of BFAR and BOC.

Guido Poppe, a conchologist or someone who studies shells, said there are more than 8,000 species of shells in the Visayas alone. He said that in almost all areas, the people are eating the meat of the shells that are not classified as endangered and selling the empty shells to exporters. With this, they have the food from the meat and the proceeds of the sale of empty shells.

Exporter Antonio Chua, on the other hand, said the government must instead help legitimate businessmen in the industry because they provide livelihood to fishermen and their families and they religiously pay government taxes and fees.

“If the people are allowed to eat the meat of the shells but the empty shells are totally banned for export, will they just throw the empty shells after eating the meat? What a waste of resources and loss of livelihood opportunities,” Chua said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 08, 2011.

Source: Sun.Star June 7, 2011