Adaptation of the Philippine fisheries sector

The Philippines is one of the most important fishing countries, ranking 10th in the world as producer of marine capture. The country’s already fragile fisheries resources and marine ecosystems face even greater decline in a warmer world. To tackle this challenge, the Philippines is taking action through various means to increase the resilience of this sector.

A recent report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) indicates that climate change will lead to significant changes in the availability and trade of fish products, with potentially important geopolitical and economic consequences. One study suggests that a two degree warming will result in an average decline of almost 24 percent of the maximum catch potential of all species combined of the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) by 2050.

The Philippines Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) recognizes this threat and strives to increase its capacities to uphold the resilience of the fisheries sector.With support from the FAO and UNDP led programme “Integrating Agriculture in National Adaptation Plans (NAP-Ag)”, and with the technical support of experts from the FAO the fisheries and aquaculture department, BFAR convened a national workshop 17-18 September 2019. The workshop gathered representatives of fishing communities and cooperatives, as well as government, academy, private sector, and civil society partners, to present and discuss projected climate change impacts and associated risks and vulnerabilities on sardine fisheries and dependent livelihoods. 

While sardine fisheries were highlighted because of their relevance to the Philippine economy and nutritional needs of the population, the workshop related the findings to possible impacts on other ecologically- and economically-important fish species.

FAO introduced its adaptation toolbox that provide guidance on possible adaptation responses in the context of Philippine fisheries. Case studies on addressing sardine catch wastage and on gender-sensitive analysis for seaweed were presented to illustrate different ways of addressing adaptation recommended in the toolbox.

Encouraged by the positive reception to the workshop, BFAR has been spurred to review and incorporate lessons learned into its recent Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (CC-DRRM) Framework and Plan. The agency has committed to consider the range of adaptation approaches and tools such as institutional changes, livelihood options, and risk reduction and management measures, not only to protect the fisheries production systems but also to enhance the resilience of the country’s fishing communities in the wake of climate change.

This article was previously published in the IKI Philippines newsletter