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2.1 Fisheries profile[3]

Philippine fisheries production comes from three major sources: (a) municipal fisheries (fishing in coastal and inland waters with or without the use of fishing boats of up to three gross tons); (b) commercial fisheries (fishing with the use of fishing vessels of more than three gross tons); and (c) aquaculture (production from fishponds, fish pens and fish cages in fresh, brackish or marine waters and mariculture of oyster, mussel and seaweeds).

Total fish production in 1999 was 2.82 million metric tonnes. Table 1 presents the quantity and value of total fish production by sector. Globally, the Philippines ranked fourteenth among the top fish producing countries in 1997.

Total fish production by sector - 1999



('000 MT)


(Phil. Pesos)







Municipal Fisheries





Commercial Fisheries






2 816




The fisheries industry provides a significant contribution to the country’s economy. In 1999, it contributed 2.7 percent at current prices to the country’s Gross Domestic Product and accounted for 15.0 percent of the Gross Value Added (GVA) from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry sector. Overall, the fisheries sector is second only to the agriculture sector in terms of its contribution to GVA.

Total fishery exports were valued at US$480 million compared to fishery imports of only US$107.3 million. Tuna was the top dollar earner, followed by shrimp/prawn and seaweeds.

2.2 State of the Philippine population

The Philippines is the thirteenth most populous country in the world. In 2000, the Philippines registered a population of 75.33 million and an annual growth rate of 2.02 percent. While the average growth rates have been declining (2.75 percent in 1980, 2.35 percent in 1990 and 2.32 percent in 1995), population concerns that demand appropriate response and intervention still exist. According to the Commission on Population (POPCOM), the continued momentum of rapid population growth[4] will translate to a population increase in absolute numbers for the next two decades, declines in population growth rates notwithstanding. Citing the 1998 National Demographic and Health Survey, POPCOM underscores the following findings:

(1) The actual fertility rate of 3.7 children is higher than the wanted fertility rate of 2.7 children.

(2) There is a high unmet need for contraception of 19 percent.

(3) Substantial differences in the overall levels of contraceptive use between poor and non-poor women exist.

(4) Husbands generally prefer higher fertility than their wives and non-use of contraception is related to ‘husband’s objection’.

Based on the results of the household survey conducted by UPV, these findings have relevance to fishing communities.

The basic Philippine population policy gives couples the responsibility to decide how many children to have in accordance with their religious beliefs and the demands of responsible parenthood for sustainable development. The policy focuses on: (1) helping couples achieve their desired family size; (2) improving the reproductive health of individuals and contributing to a further reduction of infant mortality, maternal mortality and early child mortality; (3) reducing the incidence of teenage pregnancy and early marriage; and (4) contributing to policies that will assist government achieve a favourable balance between population distribution and economic activities. As a strategy, the empowerment of men and women - especially of women - and the improvement of their political, social, economic and health status are pursued.

2.3 Municipal fisherfolk population

In total, coastal communities comprise about 54 percent of all municipalities in the country. The social relevance of the municipal fisheries sector is highlighted because fishing communities are often poor, geographically isolated and have little access to basic social services. They have also been characterized as high fertility groups.

There is no accurate account of the actual number of people dependent on and involved in the fisheries industry. It has always been estimated that more than one million persons are engaged directly and indirectly in fishery-related activities. Of this, municipal fisherfolk occupy a clear majority. A desk study conducted by Baylon (1997) on the population trends of municipal fisherfolk reports that the total municipal fisherfolk population increased from 399 942 in 1970 to 904 004 in 1980 - an increase of 126 percent. This large increase suggests that fishing still attracted labour from other sectors and was providing a good source of income. Between 1980 and 1990, total municipal fisherfolk population registered a slight increase of only 6 percent, indicating a decreasing attractiveness of the fisheries sector. Overexploitation and depletion of the resource were cited as possible factors for the decline.

2.4 State of the resource

A critical issue facing the fisheries sector is the sustainability of fishery resources. Fishery experts have recognized that the limits of sustainable fishing have already been reached or even exceeded. The open access regime has resulted in overexploitation. Habitat destruction, particularly of coral reefs, mangroves and seagrass areas, exacerbates the problem. These have resulted in a levelling off or declining fish catches, ultimately translating to reduced incomes for fishers. The mutually reinforcing issues of resource depletion and persistent poverty have relegated the small-scale fisherfolk to being among the most economically and socially disadvantaged groups in Philippine society.

2.5 Coastal Resource Management Programmes (CRMP)

Increasing awareness of the endangered state of the coastal environment has resulted in a shift of focus from fisheries development to coastal resource management (CRM), in the decentralization and devolution of fisheries management to local government units and in the active participation of the affected communities. As a result, community-based coastal resource management (CB-CRM) programmes and projects have been promoted and are being implemented in various stages and modalities within the country.

As an approach to sustainable development, CB-CRM aims at the protection, rehabilitation and regeneration of degraded coastal areas to benefit coastal communities. CB-CRM uses an integrated approach that considers the interrelationships and interdependencies of the biological, physical, socio-cultural, economic, demographic, legal and institutional factors obtaining in the coastal area. Studies and experience have shown that the key to success of any CRM initiative is the active involvement and participation of the community. CB-CRM is premised on community accountability and responsibility.

2.5.1 Local Government Code (LGC) of 1991

The Local Government Code (LGC) of 1991 (RA 7160) devolves certain responsibilities for fishery resources and powers for their management to local governments. The Code gives local governments the mandate to manage municipal waters within a distance from the coast of 15 kilometres seaward, and to enact and enforce appropriate fishery ordinances. Joint undertakings with non-government organizations, people’s organizations and other stakeholders for the promotion of ecological balance are also encouraged and promoted by the Code.

In May 1999, a conference attended by more than 700 mayors representing 90 percent of the coastal communities was held in Manila. The conference was an initiative of the Coastal Resource Management Project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the League of Municipal Mayors of the Philippines. Its aim was to bring to the attention of policy-makers the urgent call for government to promote, as a basic service to coastal communities, coastal resource management. An output of the conference was a 15-point set of resolutions requiring executive and legislative actions that would enable local government units (LGUs) to effectively manage their municipal waters.

2.5.2 Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Management Councils (FARMCs)

The passage of the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998 (RA 8550) mandated the creation of Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Management Councils (FARMCs) in all cities/municipalities abutting municipal waters. FARMCs institutionalise the role of local fisherfolk and resource users in the planning and implementation of policies and programmes for the management, conservation, development and protection of fisheries resources.

In an advisory capacity, FARMCs assist Municipal Development Councils in the preparation of their respective municipal fisheries development plans. FARMCs, through their respective Committees on Fisheries, also recommend the enactment of municipal fishery ordinances to the Sangguniang Bayan and assist in the enforcement of fishery laws, rules and regulations in municipal waters.

At the municipal level, the regular members of the FARMCs comprise the following:

municipal planning and development officer

chairperson of the Agriculture/Fishery Committee of the Sangguniang Bayan

representative of the Municipal Development Council

representative from the accredited non government organization

representative from the private sector

representative from the Department of Agriculture

at least 11 fisherfolk representatives (seven fisherfolk, one fishworker, three commercial fishers) that include representatives from the youth and women sectors.

Organization of the FARMCs went full steam with the approval in March 2000 of the guidelines for FARMC implementation. By the end of 2000, a total of 864 municipalities and cities, representing 85 percent of the total reported coastal municipalities and cities in the country, had FARMCs organized. While optional at barangay level, a total of 6 244 barangay FARMCs (64 percent of total barangays) had also been organized.

At national level, the National FARMC serves as an advisory body to the Department of Agriculture. A National FARMC Programme Management Centre (PMC) based at the BFAR Central Office serves as the Secretariat. The PMC has reported that many of the FARMCs had been successful in influencing local legislative bodies into enacting their proposed municipal fishery ordinances and that these are now in various stages of implementation. The LGUs have also found that province-led law enforcement task forces are effective partners in policing municipal waters. Various projects on habitat conservation and protection have been identified and implemented. However, inadequate funding, lack of patrol boats and low capabilities for law enforcement have been identified as major obstacles in the implementation of FARMC recommendations.

[3] From Philippine fisheries profile (BFAR,1999).
[4] An examination of sources of future population growth shows that of the total expected increase of 37 million (assuming that each Filipino woman will have one daughter to replace herself) between 1995 and 2020, the largest proportion of the increase (66 percent or 24.6 million) will be due to population momentum (POPCOM, 2000).

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