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JSPES, Vol. 43, No. 3-4 (Fall-Winter 2018)
pp. 294-315

Aquaculture, Poverty and Environment in the Philippines     

Rosalina Palanca-Tan
Department of Economics, Ateneo de Manila University

Open access in Philippine fisheries has induced overfishing, which in turn has resulted in declining catch. Aquaculture makes up for the diminishing open fishing output and hence provides for the increasing food (specifically protein) requirements of the growing population. Aquaculture also generates foreign exchange for the country as two major exports, seaweeds and shrimps, are grown in aquaculture farms. On the micro level, aquaculture potentially has a role in poverty alleviation by providing an alternative to municipal fishing and a supplementary source of income to rural and even semi-urban poor communities. Aquaculture, however, can also inflict damage on the environment. Intensive methods that involve the use of artificial feeds, fertilizers and pesticides, and the practice of excessive feeding to accelerate fish growth, result in pollution of adjacent water bodies. This paper surveys the different aquaculture environment and production systems in the Philippines with respect to their impact on poverty alleviation and the environment. There is evidence that seaweed farming and small-scale freshwater fishpond and fish cages and pens have provided low-income communities with primary and secondary means of livelihood and hence helped improved their economic conditions. Certain aquaculture operations such as seaweed farming and fish farming in Laguna Lake do not require artificial fertilizers and feeds and hence are generally environment-friendly. Incentives must therefore be more directed to these aquaculture production systems that are poverty alleviating and causing less environmental concerns.