Catch of the Week
WWF Study Cites Challenges Facing Taytay’s Fishing Industry

WWF Study Cites Challenges Facing Taytay’s Fishing Industry

Catch of the Week

Taytay’s thriving Live Reef Fish Trade (LRFT) continues to be besieged by overfishing, lack of proper management practices, and the lack of supporting policies to address these concerns, according to a case study from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

Coral trout is the most favored fish for live reef fish trade (Photo courtesy of WWF)

Coral trout is the most favored fish for live reef fish trade (Photo courtesy of WWF)

Taytay in Palawan is one of the biggest municipalities in the Philippines with valuable coastlines that provide livelihood to a majority of the coastal communities that are engaged in LRFT.

LRFT means reef fish are caught and kept alive until the moment they are cooked in restaurants and hotels. The importation of live reef fish is a lucrative business for Taytay fishers as demand continues to soar in the People’s Republic of China, the main market for LRFT.

According to the WWF case study, an average household in Taytay engaged in LRFT earns P382,940 (about $9,300) per year. This is almost five times the poverty threshold for the province of Palawan at P83,100 (about $2,000) per year.

The multimillion-dollar market for LRFT often attracts smuggling activities and unregulated and illegal fishing activities, particularly for the coral trout, a favored fish species for LRFT, the WWF study said.

For Taytay fishers, the value of a kilogram of coral trout is about 50 times higher than other reef fish, compelling some fishers to resort to illegal methods of fish harvesting. In some cases, illegal fish cages are put up to grow juvenile fish caught in the wild.

Using the mandate of the Strategic Environmental Plan for Palawan (Republic Act 7611), the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) has promulgated and is implementing laws governing the trade, under the premise that the LRFT is for shipment to Manila and not for export. The provincial and municipal governments have followed suit, using the mandate of the Local Government Code (Republic Act 7160).

Currently, the PCSD regulates the harvesting and trade of LRFT.

The good news is that the local government of Palawan has been making headway in addressing the concerns of communities involved in LRFT, the WWF study said.

Taytay and other Palawan municipalities have now been identified as “protected areas” and that local governments are also strictly monitoring transhipment points to prevent illegal trading of live reef fish catches.

Local fishers prepare their catch for live reef fish trade (Photo courtesy of WWF)

Local fishers prepare their catch for live reef fish trade (Photo courtesy of WWF)

The WWF meanwhile stated that it is against banning the LRFT, not only because of the negative impact it would have on those whose livelihoods depended on it, but because no branch of the Philippine government—national, provincial, municipal, or barangay—had the capacity to enforce it.

Banning the trade would also only drive it underground, negating the possibility of regulation and management, the WWF said.

The WWF study further said Taytay still needs to find ways to save a high value fishery that appears to be on the verge of collapse.

Efforts of the local government to declare and manage identified spawning aggregation sites and coral reefs that have shown resilience to climate change and developing implementable fishery regulations are helping toward this goal, the study further said.

The WWF case study was published by the Coral Triangle Initiative on Corals, Fisheries and Food Security. The Coral Triangle Support Partnership is a consortium led by the WWF, The Nature Conservancy, and Conservation International with funding support from the United States Agency for International Development.

DOWNLOAD THE STUDY: Taytay: Taking Charge of a Critical Resource

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