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Sector with "practically no voice" gets attention during the Philippines' subsistence fisheries workshop

by Lourdes Margarita last modified Apr 02, 2012

The WorldFish Center and the ADB Knowledge Management (KM) Project for the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) convened 26 participants to a workshop aimed at improving fish catch statistics collection in the Philippines with focus on subsistence fisheries. It was held at St. Giles Hotel in Makati City on 20-21 February 2012.

Dr. Maripaz L. Perez, Regional Director for Asia of the WorldFish Center, stressed the importance of the subsistence fisheries sector, which is often underreported, undervalued, and notoriously difficult to manage because of its dynamic, diverse, and complex nature, hence, it is frequently left out in policy dialogues. “It practically has no voice,” she said. “Nobody thinks that the reason for the high fish prices is the massive underinvestment in the subsistence fisheries sector and problems at the production level.

Subsistence fisheries play an important role in the Coral Triangle since there are an estimated 37.3 million fishermen engaged in this form of livelihood throughout Asia. However, the impact of the sector on food security is often underestimated.  Representatives from 10 local government units (LGUs) agreed with this observation and also shared their experiences in accounting for subsistence fisheries.

These fishermen catch a lot but these are not accounted for,” said Michael Dennis Mendoza, Municipal Fishery Officer from Lubang, Occidental Mindoro. “There are rules stating that they will be counted in the fish landing where they bring the fish. This is why we don’t have fish catch data for pelagic fishes.

As a first step to improve the fisheries data collection protocols, the group agreed on a common definition of subsistence fisheries based on the Philippine context. The group decided that missing parameters were needed in the existing forms to capture valuable subsistence fisheries data. The ADB KM Project committed to prepare the forms that capture the needed data. Once these parameters are approved, the group will forward the form to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) for endorsement to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) for implementation.