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2.1 Statistical organization of the Philippine Fisheries Commission

At the beginning of the expert's assignment, the statistical organization of the Philippine Fisheries Commission was limited to the central office. There were four permanent officers in the section concerned, occasionally augmented by the recruitment of casual employees.

The main work of the Economics and Statistics Section was the compilation of the statistical yearbook entitled “Fisheries Statistics of the Philippines (calendar year)”. Since the major part of the yearbook consisted of the catch or landing statistics of the commercial fishing vessels which were derived from Fish Caught Reports submitted monthly by commercial fishing vessel operators, the Section devoted most of its time tabulating the reports. Almost no statistical survey activity had been undertaken before the expert's arrival.

Following Dr. Yamamoto's recommendations to the Government in 1965, provision was included in the 1966/67 budget for the assignment of a junior statistician to each of eight Fisheries Regional Offices and of 55 statistical aides to the Fisheries Stations. By the end of 1967 seven junior statisticians and about 40 statistical aides had been appointed and by one year later all the posts were filled.

In implementing the statistical surveys proposed by the expert, the following main difficulties were encountered.

  1. Only one junior statistician and but six statistical aides were male, the others being mostly young women. This situation was very difficult for the field surveys, especially for the fish landing surveys for which only males could be considered for night work.

  2. Many of the appointees did not have a proper background for statistical work.

  3. The distribution of statistical personnel between Fisheries Regions could have been better. For example, in Fisheries Region III or Central Luzon, there was a surplus of statistical aides, and on the other hand, in Fisheries Region VII and VIII or Mindanao Island there was a paucity.

  4. There was a general shortage of funds to cover current expenses in the Philippines Fisheries Commission, especially toward the end of each quarter. As statistical surveys demand regular field trips by enumerators, the shortage of travel expenses and allowances posed serious problems.

In order to overcome these difficulties and accelerate the progress of the project, the present Commissioner of Fisheries, Mr. Mane, decided at the meeting of Fisheries Regional Directors held in August 1968 that all available field staff of the Fisheries Commission, not only statistical personnel but also the other field personnel such as fishery agents, fishery officers, technical personnel and extension workers, were to be utilized for implementing statistical surveys. The Commissioner included necessary funds for the statistical surveys in the budgetary requirements of the four-year fishery development programme for 1969-1972.

2.2 Status of fishery statistics

Official fishery statistics of the Philippines are published by the Philippine Fisheries Commission every year in the yearbook referred to above. Users of the yearbook, especially the Philippines Fisheries Commission itself, the UNSF/Philippine Deep Sea Fishing Development Project and the Central Bank of the Philippines, recognized that the official statistics particularly those on catches and landings were extremely unreliable and could not meet the needs of planners. This situation led to Dr. Yamamoto's visit to the Philippines in July-August 1965 to investigate the possibility of improving the national fishery statistical system and upon acceptance of his technical recommendations FAO assigned Mr. Shimura to the Philippines as a Fishery Statistician.

In general, the existing fishery statistics were derived from the adminitrative records of the national government, none of them being based on the results of statistical surveys. The statistical yearbook includes the following groups of tables.

  1. Number of commercial fishing vessels
  2. Catches or landings of commercial fishing vessels
  3. Production of fishponds
  4. Import-export of fishery products
  5. Gathering of minor fishery products.

The statistics on (1) are derived from the licence records on commercial fishing vessels kept by the Fisheries Commission. The statistics on (2) are compiled from Fish Caught Reports which are submitted monthly by the operators of commercial fishing vessels to the Fisheries Commission for the purpose of collection of a Fish Caught Fee of the two pesos per ton of catch. The area data of the government leased fishponds for the statistics on fishponds (3) are from the area data appearing in the licence records kept by the Fisheries Commission. The foreign trade statistics (4) are obtained from the Custom Offices, and, the statistics on minor products (5) are derived from permit records kept by the Fisheries Commission.

A difficult factor which had to be faced when considering the collection of statistical data in the field was the absence of fish transaction records in the fish markets and the non-existence of fishermen's cooperatives. Consequently the most apposite way of gathering reliable catch or landing data was to have enumeraters observe landings or interview directly. That the Philippine Fisheries Commission had no statistical field staff prior to the commencement of this project in 1966 was the main reason for the unreliable fishery statistics produced.

The fishery statistics already available were mainly for catch or landings. Statistics on fishing effort, fishing manpower, fish prices, fish distribution, fish processing and the economic situation of individual fishing operators were generally lacking.

Before describing the situation of the existing statistics by category of fisheries, it may be convenient to define the categories of fisheries in the Philippines. The expert classified the Philippines fisheries into the following four categories for statistical purposes;

(1)Commercial fisheryFishing in marine waters with commercial fishing vessels. The commercial fishing vessel is defined in Act No. 4003 (known as the Fisheries Law) as a fishing vessel of more than 3 tons gross
(2)Marine Municipal fisheriesFishing, gathering or cultivating fish and other marine products in marine waters with fishing boats of not more than 3 tons gross or without a fishing boat
(3)Fishpond fisheriesThe cultivation of fish and crustaceans (e.g. shrimp and crab) in brackish or freshwater pond ponds. The most popular type of fishpond is the brackish-water fishpond in which milk fish (bangus in Tagalog language) is farmed
(4)Other Inland fisheriesFishing in inland waters other than fishponds i.e lake, rivers, canals, swamps, reservoirs and and paddy field. Inland waters may be either brackish or fresh.

The situation of the existing statistics for each of the four categories of fisheries is described as follows:

(I) Commercial fisheries

There were about 2,500 commercial fishing vessels in 1966, and according to the statistical yearbook, they caught 315,000 metric tons of fish in that year.

The tables on the commercial fisheries occupy a major part of the statistics yearbook. They cover the number of vessels grouped by their characteristics, and the total catch such as by months, by kind of fishing gear, by fishing grounds, by landing place, by size class of vessel, by kind of fish caught and by various combinations of the foregoing.

The statistics on the number of vessels are compiled from the license records kept by the Fisheries Commission, and the statistics on the total catch and various breakdowns of it are compiled from Fish Caught Reports. In compliance with Act 4003, operators of commercial fishing vessels must apply for licenses to operate such vessels, and have to submit monthly reports on catch for each vessel to enable the Fisheries Commission to collect a fee of two pesos for each ton of fish caught. The monthly report is called Fish Caught Report, and the fee is called Fish Caught Fee.

As is a common tendency with tax payers, the operators tend to under-report their catches, not only for paying a reduced Fish Caught Fee but also out of fear of the imposition of income tax based on their reported catch. The Fisheries Commission accepts the reported catches as they are for the purpose of collecting the Fish Caught Fee. But, for the statistical purposes, the Fisheries Commission correct the reported catch by applying a correction or raising factor.

A raising factor of 3 was applied for the calendar years from 1951 to 1962, but in 1963 it was raised to 4 where it now stands. A serious defect in the procedure was the lack of a sound basis for setting the raising factor at 3 for 1951 and for changing it to 4 in 1963. In both cases the values were based on general experience and intuition.

Further, monthly submission of the Fish Caught Reports by commercial fishing vessel operators is often irregular and although catch data by kinds of fish are required, in many cases only the total catch is reported. In the latter case, the total catch figure is allocated between kinds of fish according to the general experience of the officers concerned.

Lastly, statistics lacking for these fisheries include statistics on fishing effort, on the producer price of fish, on fish distribution by destination, on fish processing and on the economic situation of individual fishing operator.

(2) Marine Municipal Fisheries

According to the Statistical Yearbook, in 1966 the total catch of the Municipal Fisheries was 327,000 metric tons, though this figure is interpreted to include the catch of Inland Fisheries other than Fishponds as well as that of the Marine Municipal Fisheries; see also first paragraph of (4) Other Inland Fisheries.

Estimates of the annual total catch data of the Municipal Fisheries are available from 1951, when annual catch reports from some six municipalities were used as sample data to estimate the total annual catch of the Municipal Fisheries in the whole country; this method was used for several years after 1951. For later years assumed annual increase rates were applied progressively to arrive at the total catch for following year. As a result the recent data are most probably subject to a large margin of error. There is no breakdowndown of the total annual catch of this fishery

There were no statistics on the number of fishing barrios (communities), no statistics on the number of fishing families, no statistics on the number of fishing boats of not more than 3 tons gross, before the Identification of Marine Barrios (see below) commenced in 1966.

(3) Fishpond Fisheries

There were 139,000 hectares of fishponds in 1966 (mostly brackishwater) and according to the Statistical Yearbook they produced 64,000 metric tons of milk fish and other products in 1966. This annual production is estimated by mul tiplying the area of fishponds by the average productivity of fishponds by province

Fishponds may be privately-owned (about 40% of the total area), or government leased. Since the data on the area of the government-leased fishponds are recorded in the licence documents kept by the Fisheries Commission, they are comparatively reliable. On the other hand, the area data of privately-owned fishponds were obtained some 15 years ago by means of survey carried out by the Bureau of Fisheries, and since then no changes have been made.

The presently available estimates of the average productivity of fishponds per hectare per year by province were derived as long ago as 1958 by officers of the Estuarine Fisheries Division of the Fisheries Commission without the conducting of a survey. The figures are rounded to the nearest 100 kilograms per hectare per year and range from 100 kilograms for the provinces with the lowest productivity to 800 kilograms for the provinces with the highest productivity. The reliability of these factors would seem to be very doubtful.

There are no data on area or production by brackishwater and freshwater fishponds separately. Such information would be of interest since the brackish-water fishponds in the Philippines are of a special character, in that they are always operated for the cultivation of milk fish, sometimes together with shrimp and other kinds of fish. The breakdown of production by kinds of products, such as milk fish, shrimp, crab, telapia and common carp is not available at present.

(4) Other Inland Fisheries

Statistics on Inland Fisheries other than Fishponds do not appear in the Statistical Yearbook, but it is understood among the officers concerned in the Fisheries Commission that the annual production data for the Municipal Fisheries appearing on the first page of the Yearbook comprise the production of both Inland Fisheries other than Fishponds and Marine Municipal Fisheries. This is because, according to the Fisheries Law, the Municipal Fisheries include the fisheries in inland waters as well as those fisheries in marine waters, as long as fishing is operated with a fishing boat of not more than 3 tons gross or no boat. Further, the 1951 reports from the some six municipalities mentioned above, were supposed to include the production of Inland Fisheries.

However, on the other hand, the Fisheries Commission when reporting its fishery statistics to FAO, added 17,000 metric tons of freshwater fish to the total catch published in the Statistical Yearbook of the Philippines. This means that the Municipal Fisheries production appearing in the Statistical Yearbook was on this occasion treated as not including the production of the Inland Fisheries. In short, it was not clear whether the annual catch data for the Municipal Fisheries appearing in the Statistical Yearbook, included or excluded ded the catch of Inland Fisheries.

Although no statistical survey covering the whole country has been carried out for Inland Fisheries a series of limnological surveys were conducted at Laguna de Bay between 1961 and 1963 with the technical assistance of FAO. The results of these surveys were not available in the Statistical Yearbook.

In the FAO Yearbook of Fisheries Statistics, the annual catch of molluscs is excluded from total Philippines catch and appears, in parenthesis, under a heading “Molluscs used for duck feed”. The extremely large quantities quoted for 1962, 1963 and 1964 are more than 800,000 metric tons which exceed the total catch of fish in the Philippines for the three years. These figures seem to be subject to serious overestimation. There were around half a million ducks raised by about 4,000 duck farmers around Laguna de Bay in 1963, and the main food of ducks was freshwater snails caught in Laguna de Bay. Using these facts, the Fisheries Commission estimated the annual snail production for the whole country by multiplying the average annual snail consumption per duck around Laguna de Bay by the total number of ducks in the whole country. However, ducks in areas other than Laguna de Bay do not seem to consume as many snails. Moreover, the average annual consumption of snail per duck around Laguna de Bay seems to be overestimated considerably.

(5) Fishery Census

Since a fishery census usually covers all aspects of a fishery, the subject is discussed under this separate heading.

All the censuses in the Philippines are taken by the Census and Statistics Bureau. A fishery Census has not been carried out in this country yet, but one is expected to take place in 1970 for the first time.

In the Economic Census of the Philippines, carried out in 1961, fishing establishments were covered. However, it seemed to the expert that as far as fishing establishments were concerned the census results provided the Fisheries Commission with very limited information. For example, the total number of fishing establishments, said to be 16,378 was an understatement since it referred to licensed fishing establishments only in a situation where the issue of fishing licenses was a municipal responsibility with each municipality pursuing its own policy. Some of the Census results by fishing category, however, seem to give more reliable information, especially the data on those categories of fishing for which the Fisheries Commission issued licences. These include:

  1. “Off-shore or ocean fishing” or fishing with commercial fishing vessels
  2. “Fishponds or Fish Farms” or government-leased fishponds

In both these cases all the reporting units were supposed to have been covered.

However, in general, the results of the Economic Census are of rather limited use to the Fisheries Commission, because the main purpose of the Economic Census was to gather economic data concerning licensed fishing establishments; the most important purpose of the 1970 Fishery Census, will be to gather data on the fishing activity of all categories of operating units including fishing households.

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