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Fisheries Improved for Sustainable Harvest Project

The Philippine Fisheries Situation


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Too few fish, too many mouths to feed

Photo of young fishers sorting fish catch

Philippine seas supply food for the whole country and livelihood for millions of people. Fisheries are economically, culturally, socially and ecologically important to all Filipinos. These resources are in crisis as evidenced by the declining fish catch, size and species composition around the country.

The current condition of fisheries in the Philippines and worldwide is bleak. Overfishing, illegal fishing and habitat destruction combined with increased demand for fish and population growth continue to drive fisheries production into a deeper abyss. Seemingly impossible just 20 years ago, protein deficiency among fishing communities is now increasing at an alarming rate.

We are in massive denial and continue to bicker over the last shrinking numbers of survivors, employing satellites and sensors to catch the last fish left. We have to understand how close to extinction some of these populations really are. (Meyers and Worth 2003)
              Global fisheries perspective

  • Loss of marine biodiversity
  • Declining fish stocks
  • Loss of revenues and benefits from fisheries and coastal resources
  • Overfishing
  • Illegal and destructive fishing
  • Coastal and habitat degradation
  • Siltation and pollution
  • Post-harvest losses
  • Inefficient marketing
  • Inequitable distribution of benefits from fisheries and coastal resource uses
  • Open access
  • Inter- and intra-sectoral conflicts
  • Low awareness and participation in management
  • Lack of employment/poverty among municipal fishers
  • Population growth
  • Low awareness of the implications of overpopulation and food security
  • Lack of delivery mechanisms for reproductive health programs in rural coastal communities
  • Inconsistent policies and programs for sustainable fisheries
  • Continued investments in production-oriented programs
  • Conflicting and fragmented national policies
  • Weak institutional and stakeholder capacity to plan and implement fisheries management
  • Absence of a vision for institutional change to support sustainable fisheries
  • Inadequate technical and financial support to LGU fisheries management initiatives
  • Weak and inadequate law enforcement
  • Inadequate interagency coordination mechanisms for fisheries and coastal resource management
  • Lack of a constituency for sustainable fisheries
  • Low awareness and understanding of the implications of overfishing on food security and economic development
  • Polarization of stakeholders over means to achieve sustainable fishing

The solutions to address these problems are challenging. Tough decisions must be made to stabilize and reverse the negative trends plaguing fisheries and coastal habitats today. Fisheries and coastal resource management must be prioritized by national and local stakeholders to ensure food on the table today, and fish catch in the future and continued economic benefits from the rich coastal ecosystems of the Philippines. Develop ecosystem-based fisheries management program to address critical threats to fisheries and other coastal resources.

Diagram showing the decline of Philippine fisheries from 1950 to 2000
Philippine fisheries decline.

     1. Dalzell P., P. Corpuz, R. Ganaden and D. Pauly, 1987. Estimation of Maximum Sustainable Yield and Maximum Economic Rent from the Philippine Small Pelagic Fisheries: BFAR Tech Pap. Ser. 10(3): 23 p.
National Statistics Office. 2000.


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This website was made possible through support provided by the USAID under the terms of Contract No. AID 492-C-00-03-00022-00. The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID. As long as proper reference is made to the source, articles may be quoted or reproduced in any form for non-commercial, non-profit purposes to advance the cause of marine environmental and fisheries management and conservation.