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Chapter 2



The fishing industry of the Philippines is divided into four sectors, viz:

  1. commercial fishing with fishing vessels of more than 3 tons gross;
  2. municipal fishing with fishing vessels of 3 tons gross or under, or without the use of vessels;
  3. fishponds;
  4. fishing in lakes and rivers.

According to the Fisheries Statistics of the Philippines, the production of fish by the first three sectors of the industry during the past five years was as shown in Table 1. Fishing in lakes and rivers is as yet not included in the published statistics.

The annual average rate of growth represented by these values is 9.5 percent for the commercial and municipal fisheries and 6.7 percent for the fishponds. The sudden increase shown for the last named in 1968 is due, to a large extent, to a resurvey of the area under fishponds as well as a new estimate of the productivity of the ponds.


Fishermen engaged in commercial fishing require licences, and the number of licences issued during 1964–68 fluctuated between 21 991 and 29 687. The variation is more a measure of the efforts made to enforce the licensing requirements than a real indication of wide variation in the number of man employed, and the total is probably somewhat higher than indicated, with 30 000 as a conservative estimate.

The number of commercial fishing vessels has increased from 1 945 in 1947 to 2 225 during 1964–68, or by 14.3 percent, while the total gross tonnage of the fleet increased from 55 499 gross tons to 81 959 gross tons, an increase of 46 percent. The average size of the vessels has thus grown appreciably during the period, from 28.5 tons to 36.5 tons. Vessels over 70 gross tons increased in number from 298 to 474 in this time.

The ten most important fishing grounds account for 90 percent of the landings of the commercial fleet. The annual variations in catch on the different grounds, expressed as a percentage of the total catch has not shown much variation in the past five years and Table 2 gives the catches for 1967.

Above two thirds of the commercial catch is landed in Navotas, Rizal. The remaining one third is landed in various areas, mainly in the Visayas at Cediz, Iloilo City and Bacolod.

Figure 1 shows the landing of fish by commercial vessels at the major landing points.

The fishing grounds which supply the bulk of the commercial catch to Navotas are Sulu Sea (Palawan) 43.4 percent, Visayan Sea 35.85 percent, Manila Bay 10.61 percent, Sibugey Bay 5.39 percent, while a dozen other fishing areas provide the remaining 4.75 percent.

Round-scad (galonggong) is by far the most common fish caught in the Philippines in terms of tonnage. The second kind is slipmouth (sap-sap), followed by sardines, nemipterids, chub mackerel, lizard fish, anchovy and big-eyed scad. Table 3 shows the commercial landings of the ten most common species or kinds of fish in the Philippines and in Navotas.

Commercial fishing is carried out all year, but the most productive season is March to September. Figure 2 shows the monthly variation in 1967, and is fairly typical, although April or May are in some years more productive and December is at times lower by half than it was in 1967.


Municipal fishing is entirely inshore fishing carried out by small fishing boats and bancas not more than 3 tons, as well as stationary traps (fish corrals). The gear used consists mainly of drive-in-nets, round haul seines, beach seines, handlines, gill nets and spear fishing.

In the south, the small banca fishermen are also fishing yellowfin tuna by handlines in deeper water, which is also the case along Zambales Coast where the continental shelf is very narrow.

The number of municipal fishermen is estimated to be around 550 000, and the catch was estimated to be 351 229 metric tons (t) in 1967 (see Table 1). Since the estimates of the municipal fishlandings are based on very limited information, the above mentioned quantity is not very reliable.

If the number of fishermen is assumed to be 550 000, the average catch per man in 1967 is only 638 kilogrammes (kg). It has, however, to be taken into consideration that many municipal fishermen are only part-time fishermen, as many are working seasonally in the rice fields during the planting and harvesting seasons. Others are working part-time in the forests and mines. But even so, the above catch of 351 220 t is most likely an underestimate.

Many of the small fishing villages (barrios) are located in very remote areas and small islands with very poor communication facilities and without road connection to the bigger consumer areas. Consequently they have difficulties in marketing their catch in the fresh because of lack of ice. Fishing in those places is therefore limited to be a subsistence to their own living only.


Fish production in fishponds is to a great extent confined to milkfish (bangus), although in certain ponds shrimps are also a valuable by-product, and may account for 5 to 10 percent of the production. The production of carp has lately been introduced by FAO freshwater fisheries experts with very promising results.

As was pointed out above, the production statistics show a very great increase in the output of fishponds, from 63 912 tons in 1967 to 86 711 tons in 1968, and this increase can be attributed to improvements in the statistical system more than to any sudden increase in production. A steady growth between 1964 and 1968 would give a truer picture of the development.

The main producing areas are located in Panay Island in Central Luzon and Negros as shown in Table 4, but the production of pond fish is also growing fast in Mindanao in recent years.

It will be seen that the production of fish per hectare varies from 300 to almost 900 kg per hectare in the main producing areas. In some of the smaller producing areas the yield is yet lower, 150–250 kg per hectare.

Some 545 000 hectares (ha) of freshwater and mangrove swamps are still available for possible development into fishponds.

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