1. Profile
    1. Basic legislation
    2. Legal definition
    3. Guidelines and codes of conduct
    4. International arrangements
  2. Planning
    1. Authorization system
    2. Access to land and water
    3. EIA
  3. Operation
    1. Water and wastewater
    2. Fish movement
    3. Disease control
    4. Drugs
    5. Feed
  4. Food safety
    1. Miscellaneous
      1. References
        1. Legislation
        2. Related resources
      2. Related links
        Basic legislation
        The Philippine Environment Code (1988) provides the foundation for all measures dealing with the Philippine's natural environment, encompassing the management of air quality, water, land use, natural resources and waste. The Code, being a framework instrument, provides a chapter on fisheries and aquatic resources and requires the government to establish a system of rational exploitation thereof. The Philippine Fisheries Code (1998) provides for the development, management, conservation and utilization of fisheries and aquatic resources. The Code integrates all laws that are relevant to these issues. Chapter II, Article III (Sections 45-57) of the Code deals with aquaculture. The Implementing Rules and Regulations (1998) provide the procedures and guidelines for the implementation of the Code. The Code is further implemented by numerous Fisheries Administrative Orders (FAOs) on various specific subjects.

        The Fisheries Code falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture. Within the Department, the Undersecretary for Fisheries and Aquatic Resources is responsible for setting policies and formulating standards and for exercising overall supervision. The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquaculture Resources (BFAR) is the agency tasked with the management and development of fisheries and aquatic resources. The Code also creates a National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (NFRDI), which serves as the primary research arm of BFAR. The functions of BFAR are broadly defined and include - inter alia - the preparation and implementation of the National Fisheries Industry Development Plan, the enforcement of laws and regulations (except in municipal waters) and the monitoring and regulation of import and export of fishery and aquaculture products and of fish processing establishments.

        The Fisheries Code also provides for the establishment of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Councils (FARMCs) at various levels: national (NFARMC), municipal or city (M/CFARMC), and bays, gulfs, lakes, rivers and dams bounded by two or more municipalities or cities to be known as Integrated FARMC (IFARMC). The NFARMC serves as an advisory/recommendatory body to the Department of Agriculture in policy formulation and the preparation of the National Fisheries Industry Development Plan. The M/CFARMCs assist in the preparation of Municipal Fishery Development Plans and the enforcement of laws and regulations in concerned municipal waters, among other things. The IFARMC has a similar role to the M/CFARMC except that its reach covers more than just one municipality. Fisheries Administrative Order No 196 (2000)  provides detailed guidelines on the creation and implementation of FARMCs.

        Another basic act that is relevant to aquaculture is the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (1997), which prescribes the measures to modernize the agriculture and fisheries sectors in order to enhance their profitability. Whereas the Fisheries Code prioritizes the management, conservation and protection of fisheries and aquatic resources, the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act places priority on increase in production and encourages a rapid shift towards industrialization. The National Agriculture and Fisheries Council (NAFC) assists the Department of Agriculture in the monitoring and coordination of the agriculture and fisheries modernization process.

        Finally, the Reorganization Act of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) (1987) establishes the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), encompassing the former National Environmental Protection Council, the former National Pollution Control Commission and the former Environmental Center of the Philippines. It also establishes a Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau. It should be noted that the Fisheries Code contains a number of provisions in which the jurisdictions of BFAR and EMB intersect. Such intersections are express, such as the classification of rare, threatened or endangered species of aquatic flora and fauna or the classification of fishery areas, or implied, such as the formulation of an integrated coastal management framework and the setting, monitoring and evaluation of water quality standards.
        Legal definition
        The Fisheries Code defines aquaculture as "fishery operations involving all forms of raising and culturing fish and other fishery species in fresh, brackish and marine areas".
        Guidelines and codes of conduct
        The Fisheries Code requires BFAR to establish a Code of Practice for Aquaculture. Fisheries Administrative Order No. 214 (2001)  establishes such a Code outlining the general principles and guidelines for environmentally-sound design and operation to promote the sustainable development of the aquaculture industry. The Code deals with many of the issues mentioned above including site selection/evaluation, farm design and construction, EIS, water usage, water discharge and sludge/effluent management, use of drugs, chemicals, potentially toxic pesticides and fertilizers, stock selection/stocking practices, introduction of exotic species/GMOs, feed, feed use and management, fish health management, aquaculture data management and incentives.
        International arrangements
        Philippines is a member of:
        • World Trade Organization (WTO).
        • Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
        • Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia and the Pacific (NACA).
        • Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC).
        Philippines is a party to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). It has signed the Biosafety Protocol on 24 May 2000, but is not yet a party to the Protocol. Philippines is also a party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
        Authorization system
        Authorizations to engage in and set up an aquaculture facility are granted by the body that has jurisdiction over the venue of the aquaculture operation. In municipal waters, the construction and operation of fish pens, fish cages, fish traps and other structures for the culture of fish and other fishery products is the responsibility of Local Government Units (LGUs), i.e. the municipal or city governments. Municipal waters are defined as to include streams, lakes, inland bodies of water and tidal waters within the municipality (and which are not included within protected areas, see below), as well as the marine waters as delineated in the Code (basically limited to the waters 15 km from the shore). The Fisheries Code requires all LGUs to enact, in consultation with the FARMCs, a basic Municipal Fisheries Ordinance (MFO) delineating the boundaries of the municipal waters as defined in the Code and providing the rules and regulations on licensing and permits and other fishery activities. According to the Code, only ten percent of the surface area of lakes and rivers may be allotted for the construction and operation of fish pens, fish cages, fish traps and other structures for the culture of fish and other fishery products. The Code spells out the need to control stocking density and feeding rates in such aquaculture facilities. Existing pearl farm leases should be respected. New pearl farm leases may be granted by the LGUs having jurisdiction over the area to qualified persons who possess the necessary capital and technology. Duly registered fisher folk organizations/cooperatives have preference in the grant of fishery rights by the LGUs.

        Beyond municipal waters, fish pens and fish cages should be constructed and operated within fish pen and fish cage belts designated by BFAR and after corresponding licenses therefore have been issued by BFAR and fees have been paid. In addition, special committees or authorities having control and supervision over specific water bodies that are regulated by specific laws, for instance Taal Lake, have the power to issue licenses for aquaculture operations in those water bodies. The National Irrigation Authority, by virtue of its own charter, issues licenses for the Maga Dam.

        BFAR also has the responsibility of granting so called Fishpond Lease Agreements (FLAs) for public lands, primarily to fisher folk cooperatives/associations. Generally, public lands "such as tidal swamps, mangroves, marshes, foreshore lands and ponds suitable for fishery purposes" are under the jurisdiction of DENR. The latter may declare public lands as alienable and disposable for fishpond purposes and release them to the jurisdiction of BFAR. The Fisheries Code expressly prohibits the conversion of mangroves into fishponds, thus effectively limiting the fishpond area to areas that have already been developed. DENR, in coordination with BFAR, LGUs, other concerned agencies and FARMCs, has the task to determine which abandoned, undeveloped or underutilized fishponds covered by FLAs can be reverted to their original mangrove state and after having made such determination must take all steps necessary to restore such areas in their original mangrove state.

        The conditions governing the lease of public lands for fishpond development are stated in the Fisheries Code and are further specified and detailed in Fisheries Administrative Order No 167 (2000)  . According to the Fisheries Code, fishpond leases are subject to the following conditions:
        • Areas leased for fishpond purposes shall be no more than 50 ha for individuals and 250 ha for corporations or fisher folk organizations.
        • The lease shall be for a period of 25 years and renewable for another 25 years. In case of the death of the lessee, his spouse and/or children, as his heirs, shall have pre-emptive rights to the unexpired term of the FLA subject to the same terms and conditions provided herein and provided that the said heirs are qualified.
        • Lease rates for fishpond areas shall be determined by BFAR. All fees collected shall be remitted to the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute and other qualified research institutions to be used for aquaculture research development.
        • The area leased shall be developed and producing on a commercial scale within three years from the approval of the FLA. All areas not fully producing within five years from the date of approval of the FLA shall automatically revert to the public domain for reforestation.
        • The fishpond shall not be subleased, in whole or in part, and failure to comply with this provision shall mean cancellation of the FLA
        • The transfer or assignment of rights under the FLA shall be allowed only upon prior written approval of BFAR.
        • The lessee shall undertake reforestation for river banks, bays, streams and seashore fronting the dike of his fishpond subject to the rules and regulations to be promulgated
        • The lessee shall provide facilities that will minimize environmental pollution, i.e., settling ponds, reservoirs, etc. Failure to comply with this provision shall mean cancellation of the FLA.
        Generally, any aquaculture structure - whether it concerns fish cages, fish pens, fish traps or fishponds - may not obstruct the navigation or "defined migration paths" of migratory fish species. Fisheries Administrative Orders 216 and 217 (2001)   contain more specific and detailed rules on these issues.

        All fish hatcheries, fish breeding facilities and private fishponds must be registered with the LGUs, which should prescribe minimum standards for such facilities in consultation with BFAR. In addition, BFAR conducts a yearly inventory of all fishponds, fish pens and fish cages, whether in private or public land. Moreover, all fishpond, fish pen and fish cage operators must annually report to BFAR about the type of species and the volume of production in the areas devoted to aquaculture. Fisheries Administrative Order 218 (2001)  contains more specific and detailed rules on the annual report.

        Finally, also relevant to aquaculture is the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act (2001)  , which seeks - inter alia - to conserve and protect wildlife species and their habitats and to regulate the collection and trade of wildlife. The Act defines "wildlife" for this purpose as wild forms of flora and fauna, in all developmental stages, including those which are in captivity or are being bred or propagated. In particular, the Act encourages the "conservation breeding or propagation of threatened species" in order to enhance its population in its natural habitat. The Act establishes that the breeding or propagation of wildlife for commercial purposes may be allowed by the Secretary of the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau, or any authorized representative, upon the issuance of a wildlife farm culture permit, which may be issued for 3 to 5 years. However, only progenies of wildlife raised, as well as unproductive parent stock, may be utilized for trade. In addition, commercial breeding operations for wildlife, whenever appropriate, should be subject to an EIA study (see below).
        Access to land and water
        The provisions of the Fisheries Code are applicable to "all Philippine waters" and "all lands devoted to aquaculture". Licensing requirements for the construction and operation of fish pens, fish cages and fish traps in Philippine waters as well as the lease of public lands for fishponds have been discussed above.

        The Water Code of the Philippines (1976) governs the ownership, appropriation, utilization, exploitation, development, conservation and protection of water resources and the rights to land related thereto. According to the Act, water may be appropriated for the purpose of - inter alia - fisheries, which is further described as "the utilization of water for the propagation and culture of fish as a commercial enterprise". The appropriation of water requires a water permit, to be issued by the National Water Resources Board (NWRB). The permit may be subject to conditions of beneficial use, adequate standards of design and construction and other terms and conditions as may be imposed by the NWRB. The permit should specify the maximum amount of water that may be diverted or withdrawn, the points of diversion, the purpose for which the water may be used etc. Every appropriator of water should maintain water control and measuring devices, and keep records of the water withdrawal. The Water Code also lists the circumstances under which the water permit may be suspended, revoked, modified or cancelled.

        Also relevant to aquaculture is the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act (1992)  , which governs, classifies and administers protected areas, i.e. outstanding remarkable areas and biologically important public lands that are habitats of rare and endangered species of plants and animals, biographic zones and related ecosystems, whether terrestrial, wetland or marine. The Act, which places the NIPAS under the control and administration of DENR, requires proposals for activities that fall outside the scope of the management plan for such protected areas to be subject to an environmental impact assessment (see below).
        The Fisheries Code requires all government agencies as well as private corporations, firms and entities who intend to undertake activities or projects which will affect the quality of the environment to prepare a detailed Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) prior to undertaking such development activity. The preparation of an EIS forms a integral part of the entire planning process pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 1586 (1978), establishing an Environmental Impact Statement System. In addition, Presidential Proclamation No. 2146 (1981)  lists the Environmentally Critical Projects (ECPs) and Environmentally Critical Areas (ECAs) that require an EIS. They include - inter alia - fishery projects, i.e. dikes for/and fishpond development projects, as well as protected areas under the National Integrated Protected Areas System and certain mangrove areas.

        The EIS-procedure is further regulated in Administrative Order No 42 (2002)  , giving authority to the Director and Regional Directors of the EMB to grant or deny the issuance of Environmental Compliance Certificates (ECC), and the Implementing Rules and Regulations (2003). Generally, the EIS should at least contain the following information:
        • EIS Executive Summary.
        • Project Description.
        • Matrix of the scoping agreement identifying critical issues and concerns, as validated by the EMB.
        • Baseline environmental conditions focusing on the sectors (and resources) most significantly affected by the proposed action.
        • Impact assessment focused on significant environmental impacts (in relation to project construction/commissioning, operation and decommissioning), taking into account cumulative impacts.
        • EIA if determined by the EMB as necessary during scoping.
        • Environmental Management Program/Plan.
        • Supporting documents, including technical/socio-economic data used/generated; certificate of zoning viability and municipal land use plan; and proof of consultation with stakeholders.
        • Proposals for Environmental Monitoring and Guarantee Funds including justification of amount, when required.
        • Accountability statement of EIA consultants and the project proponent.
        • Other clearances and documents that may be determined and agreed upon during scoping.
        Water and wastewater
        The Reorganization Act of DENR tasks the EMB with the formulation of water quality standards and the formulation of rules and regulations for the proper disposition of solid wastes, toxic and hazardous substances. Additionally, the discharge of pollutants is an issue to be considered in the EIS process. The Philippine Clean Water Act (2004)   requires DENR, in coordination with the NWRB, to designate certain areas as water quality management areas, and to implement a wastewater charge system in those areas. The Act requires owners or operators of facilities that discharge effluents to secure a wastewater discharge permit. The permit should specify, among others, the quantity and quality of effluent that said facilities are allowed to discharge into a particular water body.

        Although DENR has a clear mandate where it concerns water pollution, also the Fisheries Code provides for an - absolute - prohibition of aquatic pollution. Aquatic pollution is broadly defined and includes - for example - deforestation and unsound agricultural practices such as the use of banned chemicals, the excessive use of chemicals, the intensive use of artificial fish feed as well as wetland conversion. Typically, this is an area where, as mentioned above, the jurisdictions of BFAR and DENR intersect.

        Finally, the Marine Pollution Decree (1976) aims to prevent and control the pollution of marine waters through the dumping of wastes and other matters that create hazards to human health and harm living resources and marine life.
        Fish movement
        The Fisheries Code establishes that no foreign finfish, molluscs, crustaceans or aquatic plants may be introduced in Philippine waters without a sound ecological, biological and environmental justification based on scientific studies subject to the bio-safety standards as provided for by existing laws. However, BFAR may approve the introduction of foreign aquatic species for scientific or research purposes. The Code also states that all fish and fishery/aquatic products coming into and going out of the country must be inspected in order to detect the presence of fish pests and diseases.

        There are two sections within BFAR that have responsibility over the movement of live aquatic animals, i.e. the Fish Health Section (see below) and the Foreign Trade and Miscellaneous Permit Section under the Fisheries Regulatory and Quarantine Division. Fisheries Administrative Order No 207 (2001)  specifically regulates and prohibits the import and culture of imported live shrimp and prawn of all stages. Fisheries Administrative Order No 221 (2003)  specifically regulates the import of live fish and fishery/aquatic products, aquatic micro-organisms, biomolecules (including GMOs) and endangered species.

        The Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act provides that wildlife species may be exported to or imported from another country upon the authorization of the Secretary of the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau, or any authorized representative. No exotic species may be introduced into the country, unless approval has been obtained of the Secretary. In no case are exotic species allowed to be introduced in protected areas covered by the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act. The Act also regulates the prospecting of biological and genetic resources. New rules on bio-prospecting have been formulated and will soon be issued. The National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines (NCBP) - inter alia - formulates national policies and guidelines on biosafety and identifies and evaluates potential hazards involved in initiating genetic manipulation experiments or the introduction of exotic species and genetically modified organisms. The NCBP has issued the Philippine Biosafety Guidelines (PBG) and Guidelines for Planned Release of Genetically Manipulated Organisms (GMOs) and Potentially Harmful Exotic Species (PHES).
        Disease control
        The Fish Health Section within BFAR spearheads the implementation of the monitoring of aquaculture farms and provides diagnostic services, technical and advisory assistance to the aquaculture industry. Its monitoring program includes disease surveillance and reporting system, aquatic animal health certification and implementation of quarantine procedures, assessment of the health status of stocks of selected fish and the management of other aquatic resource farms in the Philippines.

        The Fish Health Section operates the Central Fish Health Laboratory which is the competent authority of the Philippines, having the responsibility and competence for ensuring or supervising the implementation of the aquatic animal health measures recommended by OIE and EC Directive 2003/858/EC. It develops standardized routine procedures and guidelines for the operation of 15 Regional Fish Health Laboratories and supervises the activities of and sets directions for the operation of such laboratories. According to Fisheries Administrative Order No 220 (2001)  , the functions of the fish health laboratories are to:
        • Conduct fish disease diagnoses, conduct water quality analysis related to disease diagnosis, fish health problems and fish kill.
        • Provide technical advice on fish health management, conduct fish disease surveillance and reporting system.
        • Provide technical support to fish inspection and quarantine services.
        • Conduct on-site visits to fish farms and places where there are fish health problems.
        • Conduct fish kill investigations.
        • Provide technical support on quality control of animal feeds, veterinary drugs and chemicals in aquaculture.
        The Fish Health Section provides technical guidance to the Fish Health Officers on the execution of diagnostic activities and technical assistance on fish health-related problems. It also imparts specialized training programs on fish health for government fishery biologists, extension workers and fish farmers. Surveillance and monitoring program of farms for diseases and drug residue monitoring has been developed to know the animal health situation in the Philippines and in compliance with the requirements of trading partners. As exporter of fresh and frozen aquaculture products to European communities, the Fish Health Officers implement disease monitoring and surveillance to fulfil the requirements of EC Directive 2003/858/EC. They are also the government officials authorized to certify the animal health on the exportation of fish products of aquaculture origin into the European Union for immediate human consumption.
        As mentioned above, the fish health laboratories provide technical support on quality control of feed, veterinary drugs and chemicals in aquaculture. A national program on residue monitoring, report and planning in accordance with EU Council Directive 96/23/EC is currently being implemented. The program includes monitoring and surveillance and the use of veterinary drugs disease occurrences. The Fish Health Section has devised standardized monitoring procedures on field inspections and reporting to ensure feed quality and compliance to government regulations and EU Council Directive 96/23/EC. It also supervises the implementation and monitoring of the activities of the Fish Health Officers deputized as Aquatic Animal Feeds and Veterinary Drug and Products Control Officers.

        In addition, the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), falling under the responsibility of the Department of Agriculture, through its Animal Feeds Standard Division (AFSD), generally formulates regulations on animal feeds and chemicals intended for animals. The AFSD evaluates, registers, and licenses establishments that engage in the manufacture, distribution, and sale of veterinary products, including those used for aquaculture. It inspects and examines veterinary drugs, and adopts and uses existing standards and requirements of the Department of Health for licensing and registration. Reportedly, AFSD currently requires commercial prawn feed manufacturers to completely label their feed bags and containers. Such labels should contain, among other things, feed ingredients, including drugs or drug ingredients for disease prevention, percentage of drug, directions for use, warning against use under conditions dangerous to the health of livestock and man, and withdrawal period.

        The Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA), an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture, issues guidelines, rules, and regulations about commercial fertilizers, soil conditioners, microbial inoculants, and fertilizer raw materials prior to their distribution and sale. The FPA also registers pesticides and subsequently classifies these for general use, for restricted use, or as banned pesticides. Manufacturers, distributors, and importers are also required to secure a license from the FPA. The FPA also monitors all areas of pesticide use, including effects on the environment, pesticide residues in food, pesticide handling and use, poisoning cases, product quality, and sale and distribution. The FPA coordinates with the DENR on environmental issues regarding the use of pesticides.
        See section above.
        Food safety
        Fish and fishery/aquatic products must meet the consumer product quality and safety standards imposed under the Consumer Act (1992)  and the Fisheries Code. In particular, Chapter II, Article IV (Section 58-62) of the Code deals with post-harvest facilities and trade. All post-harvest facilities, such as fish processing plants, ice plants and cold storages, fish ports/landings and other fishery business establishments must register and be licensed by the LGUs, which shall prescribe minimum standards for such facilities in consultation with BFAR. Fishery products may be imported only when the import has been certified as necessary by BFAR, and all requirements of the Code, as well as existing rules and regulations have been complied with. No person shall import and/or export fishery products of whatever size, stage or form for any purpose without securing a permit from BAFR (see section 9). Within BFAR, the Fisheries Post Harvest Technology Division is responsible for the establishment and implementation of an inspection system for the import and export of fish and fishery/aquatic products and fish processing establishments in order to ensure product quality and safety.

        Various Fisheries Administrative Orders have been developed containing specific and detailed requirements. Fisheries Administrative Order No 195 (1999)  contains rules and regulations governing the import of fresh/chilled/frozen fish and fishery/aquatic products. Fisheries Administrative Order No 209 (2001)  contains a guideline on the production, harvesting, handling and transportation of shellfish for implementation by local governments. Fisheries Administrative Order No 210 (2001)  contains rules and regulations on the export of fresh/chilled/frozen fish and fishery/aquatic products. Fisheries Administrative Order No 211 (2001)  contains requirements for pre-processing and processing plants, standard sanitation operating procedures, as well as processing and quality requirements for shellfish. Finally, Fisheries Administrative Order No 212 (2001)  contains a guideline on the implementation of the HACCP system.
        Aquaculture investment 
        The Foreign Investment Act (1991)  sets into place the procedures for the registration and grant of incentives to foreign investors. The Foreign Investment List covers all the investment areas/activities that may be opened to foreign investors and/or that may be reserved for nationals. Up to 40 percent foreign ownership is allowed for - inter alia - the exploration, development and utilization of natural resources. More information on investment in the Philippines can be obtained from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

        Insurance for aquaculture crops/stocks
        Fisheries Administrative Order No 215 (2001)  governs the implementation of an insurance program for unharvested crops/stocks in fishponds, fish cages and fish pens, including seaweed farms and other aquaculture projects.
        Fisheries Administrative Order No 195 (1999).
        Fisheries Administrative Order No 196 (2000)
        Fisheries Administrative Order No 197 (2000)
        Fisheries Administrative Order No 207 (2001)
        Fisheries Administrative Order No 209 (2001)
        Fisheries Administrative Order No 210 (2001)
        Fisheries Administrative Order No 211 (2001)
        Fisheries Administrative Order No 212 (2001)
        Fisheries Administrative Order No 214 (2001)
        Fisheries Administrative Order No 215 (2001)
        Fisheries Administrative Order No 216 (2001)
        Fisheries Administrative Order No 217 (2001)
        Fisheries Administrative Order No 218 (2001)
        Fisheries Administrative Order No 220 (2001)
        Fisheries Administrative Order No 221 (2003)
        Related resources

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        Arthur, J.R., Lavilla-Pitogo, C.R. and Subasinghe, R.P. (eds). Use of Chemicals in Aquaculture in Asia. Proceedings of the Meeting on the Use of Chemicals in Aquaculture in Asia. Tigbauan, Iloilo, Philippines, 20 – 22 May 1996 (
        Howarth, W., Hernandez, A.R. & Van Houtte, A. (2001). Legislation Governing Shrimp Aquaculture: Legal Issues, National Experiences and Options. FAO Legal Paper Online No. 18
        Van Houtte, A. Salient legal and institutional features with regard to the development of shrimp culture in a few countries. In: FAO. 1999. Papers presented at the Bangkok FAO Technical Consultation on Policies for Sustainable Shrimp Culture. Bangkok, Thailand, 8-11 December 1997. FAO Fisheries Report No. 572 (Supplement).
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