MANILA, Philippines – Given that our country is an archipelago with vast resources on our shores and beyond, it should be no surprise that the fisheries sector is one of our biggest profitable industries.
But with the advent of climate change and man-made destruction of our seas, the overall wellness of this sector might be in danger, and sustainability factors on how we go about the process of harvesting and cultivating fishes and other species from our seas is a key issue.
And while solutions might be better talked about by experts of the field, everyone should at least know the narrative of the fisheries sector, by the numbers.
Philippine Statistics Authority reported that in 2016, the volume of fisheries production went down by 6.34 percent compared with 2015 numbers. A total of 4,354,472.61 metric tons of fisheries were produced in 2016, compared to 4.649 million metric tons in 2015. Even the 2015 figure is actually slightly lower to it’s the annual numbers from 2015, which was 4.689 million metric tons, pegging a 0.85 percentage decrease.
Trends for most subsectors are also showing a downward trend – commercial fisheries down by 6.35 percent in 2016, which also experienced a 2.04 percent decrease in a year-by-year comparison; municipal fisheries down by 6.47 percent in 2016 and 2.23 percent in 2015; and aquaculture down by 6.27 percent in 2016.
Aquaculture, however, still takes half of the total fisheries production volume from 2014 to 2016 – 2.337 million metric tons in 2014, 2.348 million metric tons in 2015, and 2.200 metric tons in 2016. Municipal fisheries, meanwhile, takes second place – 1.224, 1.216, and 1.137 million metric tons for years 2014 to 2016; while commercial fisheries is a close third with numbers playing slight above and lower 1.1 million metric tons from 2014 to 2016.
These numbers, however, cannot fully encapsulate specific issues and concerns of the sector. There is a diverse composition for this sector, as some do business in a small scale, while some are controlled by big companies with extensive production and harvest mechanisms on a policy and grassroots level should also be done, addressing specific concerns and finding solutions of lasting effect.
For example, in a forum held early August 2017, concerned government offices, civil society organizations, and sectors held a forum on “Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication”. In the event, issues were raised, such as the following:
- “The role of the Local Government Units (LGUs) in the mainstreaming of the VGSSF- Mr. Marquez responded by informing the Body of provincial consultations in case study areas undertaken under this project. Primary consultations are already done with LGUs of Infanta, Quezon and Coron, Palawan last 28 June and 11 August, respectively.
- “Complementation between VGSSF and the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries- The focus of VGSSF is on small scale fishers. It also includes provisions on disaster risks and climate change; and
- “Fragmentation of national and local policies on fisheries.”
The following recommendations were made:
- “Translate the VGSSF into the national language- Ms. Cecile Pactores raised that FAO will look into crafting a Filipino version of the VGSSF while ANGOC will be producing information materials on the VGSSF in Tagalog and Cebuano.
- “Consider the needs of the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Councils (FARMCs), and
- “Review the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Law as complement to the VGSSF.” – RealTalk, October 7, 2017
Note: This article is created with content support from Technical Cooperation Project on Mainstreaming the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests (TCP-VGGT) of the ANGOC with DENR and DOF with the support of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)-UN.