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4.1 Supply of fish

Total fish supply in the Philippines originates from four general sources:

Average fish supply from 1979-88 and 1989-97 was about 2.04 and 2.87 million t, respectively (Table 9). Despite a higher average fish supply in recent years, the annual rate of growth slowed from 3.93% in 1979-88 to 2.11% in 1979-97. This relative drop in the supply of fish in recent years can be attributed to the decline in production from municipal fisheries. Although municipal fisheries remain the greatest contributor to total fish production, their share declined from about 50% in 1979-88 to 36% in 1979-97. As domestic production has generated almost 90% of total fish supply in recent years, its declining share indicates a rapid depletion of natural stocks of municipal fisheries. Average shares to total supply from sources of fish other than municipal fisheries increased substantially from 1979-88 to 1989-1997. While imports contributed only about 10%, supply from aquaculture accounted for an average of about 21% in 1979-88 and 25% in 1979-1987. It posted the highest rate of growth per annum for these two periods compared to municipal and commercial fisheries. This clearly shows that aquaculture has a real potential for narrowing the supply gap in fish production in the country.

A part of total fish supply in the country is used for export and re-export to generate foreign exchange income, for human consumption and as a major component of feeds for animals (Tables 10-13). Except for imports and products from aquaculture, a high percentage share of the supply of fish from commercial and municipal fisheries is used for human consumption; however, figures for 1979-97 were slightly lower than for 1978-88. Average shares for export in 1989-97 increased slightly over the 1979-88 period. Overall, there was a reduction in the supply of fish for human consumption. If this trend continues, consumers will have limited access to fishery products in the near future. In fact, the average share of products from aquaculture to exports substantially increased from 39% in 1979-88 to 54% in 1979-97. Subsequent average share of aquatic products for human consumption declined from 61% to 46% for the same periods. This comes as no surprise, since aquaculture is promoted as a vehicle for generating foreign exchange earnings, rather than for meeting domestic requirements for fish. Currently, cultures of seaweed, shrimps/prawns are earmarked mainly for export. Among products from finfish aquaculture, it is only tilapia that has increased its share for human consumption. This is understandable, as the country has not yet developed export markets for this species. Thus, promoting the culture of tilapia will likely make protein from fish more accessible for consumers.

Municipal fisheries were the biggest contributor to total fish supply (Table 14). Consequently, they had the highest percentage share of per caput fish supply for consumption. However, the percentage-share contribution of municipal fisheries to total fish supply declined from 52% in 1979-88 to 47% in 1989-97, whereas percentage-shares from commercial fisheries, aquaculture sub-sectors and imports increased from 30%, 17% and 1% to 33%, 18% and 2%, respectively for the same periods. At the species level, milkfish, mainly from the brackish-water aquaculture, showed the highest percentage-share contribution to total per caput fish supply for consumption. However, average share of milkfish declined from 13% in 1979-88 to 12% in 1989-97. In absolute terms, milkfish share to per caput fish supply declined by about 13% from 3.81 kg in 1979-88 to 3.33 kg in 1989-97, while quantities of tilapia from aquaculture and sardines from commercial fisheries increased substantially from 0.66 kg and 0.80 kg to 1.66 kg and 2.17 kg, respectively. As species-level data clearly indicates, freshwater aquaculture has a great potential for increasing consumers' access to fish protein. Nevertheless, the government must not lose sight of resources from municipal and commercial fisheries, as they remain the country's major sources of fish.

4.2 Demand for fish

The country's total fish demand equals total fish supply, which is allocated for three main uses:

Most of the total demand for fish is allocated for domestic consumption, followed by export and non-food use. Total demand for fish grew moderately from 1979-97 at a yearly rate of 3.53%. On the average, total demand for fish increased considerably from 2.04 million t in 1979-88 to 2.87 million t in 1989-97. However, the share of domestic human consumption declined from 77% to 71% during those periods, whereas the share of export to total demand for fish increased substantially from 14% in 1979-88 to 25% in 1989-97; and non-food use share stabilized at 9%. These figures point to a growing competition between fish demand for export versus domestic human consumption. If this trend in demand for fish continues, Filipinos can expect to have fewer fish available in the near future.

Among the fish species in demand, the ten most consumed species, in order of importance, were milkfish, roundscad, sardines, frigate tuna, anchovies, mackerel, tilapia, slipmouth, big eye scad and carps/other freshwater fish (Table 16). Of these ten species, three were products of aquaculture, one from brackish-water (milkfish) and two from freshwater cultures (tilapia and carps/other freshwater fish). The survey implies that fish products from freshwater aquaculture play a crucial role in meeting the demand for fish in the country. Per caput consumption of products from freshwater aquaculture increased substantially, whereas consumption of those from brackish-water aquaculture and most from capture fisheries declined considerably. On average, per caput consumption of tilapia, carps and other freshwater fish increased from a mere 0.66 kg and 0.49 kg in 1979-88 to 1.61 kg and 0.80 kg in 1989-97, posting a substantial increase of about 145% and 64%, respectively. Meanwhile, per caput consumption of milkfish, frigate tuna, anchovies, big eye scad and slipmouth fell considerably by 13%, 10%, 26%, 7% and 22%, respectively. Again, these results illustrate an increasing demand for products from freshwater aquaculture. The data may also indicate increased access by consumers to products from freshwater aquaculture, as supplies of these products are substantially growing as discussed earlier.

A recent study on consumption patterns for fish compared three levels of consumption: consumption of fish producers, of non-producers (rural) and of those in urban centres (Regaspi et al., 1997). The results show that households of tilapia producers consumed more fish per annum compared to non-producers in rural and urban areas (Table 17). This is no surprise, since tilapia producers have direct access to fish in contrast to non-producers. Because the survey sampled more people from rural areas involved in tilapia farming, estimated per caput fish consumption was somewhat higher than the national average. It is also interesting to note that tilapia is slowly replacing milkfish as the major species consumed in the Philippines. Earlier studies had detected the substitutability of tilapia for milkfish (Gonzales, 1985). Milkfish accounted for only about 12% of total fish consumed, whereas tilapia accounted for about 40%. Again, these results are only useful as indicators of a trend, rather than indicators of absolute proportions of tilapia or milkfish to total consumption of fish, because samples were taken from tilapia-producing areas. Nevertheless, current dietary patterns clearly suggest that tilapia producers tend to consume more fish than non-fish producers, since they have direct access to fish and thus, presumably, enjoy a healthier diet.

4.3 Protein consumption from fish and other sources

The relative per caput intake of protein from fish compared to other sources (usually animal products) is presented in Table 18. Currently, no data are available on estimates of per caput protein intake by species. Average per caput total intake of protein from 1975 to 1996 was about 52.5 g/cap/day. Intake in per caput total protein consumption from 1975 (47.8 g/cap/day) to 1996 (55.3 g/cap/day) increased only minimally. These data show only little improvement in the socio-economic conditions of most consumers, as protein intake is highly related to higher purchasing power. The figures also support earlier findings of consumers' purchasing power declining over the years. Products with high protein content are usually priced higher than those with lower protein content. Consumption of protein from fish and seafood products followed a similar pattern. We observed a slight reduction of protein intake from fish in absolute terms from 1975 (12.7 g/cap/day) to 1996 (12.3 g/cap/day). Considering consumption from 1975 to 1996, we noted a slight rate of growth per annum in protein intake from fish of 0.44%. As a percentage of total protein consumption, however, protein intake from fish and seafood declined at a yearly rate of 0.41% from 1975 to 1996. We interpret these data to indicate that fish products are getting more expensive or less affordable for most consumers, relative to other sources of protein.

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