Academic journal article The Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies

Profile of an Aquaculture-Dependent Community in a Tropical Country

Academic journal article The Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies

Profile of an Aquaculture-Dependent Community in a Tropical Country

Article excerpt

1.Introduction

In the Philippines, aquaculture has substantially augmented the fish catch from commercial and municipal fisheries. Over the 35 years from 1980 to 2014, while commercial fisheries output merely doubled and municipal fisheries' output stagnated (even dwindling in some years), aquaculture output increased eight times from 289 thousand metric tons to 2.34 million metric tons. This phenomenal growth of aquaculture made possible the continuing increase in total Philippine fishing output over the three decades from 1980 to 2010, and a fishing output in 2014 that was still about 2-3 times its level in 1980. While the commercial fishing share in total fishing output inched down from 27% in 1980 to 24% in 2014 and that of municipal fishing halved from 57% to 27%, aquaculture's share tripled from 16% to 50%. In value terms, the less pronounced increase in the share of aquaculture from 16% to 39% reflects the slower rise in prices of aquaculture products due to its growing supply. Thus, aquaculture has provided the growing Philippine population a fish supply at relatively stable and affordable prices.

Among about 30 farmed aquatic species, tilapia, together with carrageenophyte seaweeds, provide the widest benefits to the poor (WorldFish Center 2007). This is in view of its contribution to the livelihood of lower income communities near inland water bodies and coastal areas and to the nutrition of low to lower middle income households all over the country. Farmed tilapia's price has been about 20-30% lower than round scad (galunggong), the formerly cheap marine fish that was considered until the 1980s the "barometer" fish for the poor. Tilapia's retail price is also much lower than milkfish, and chicken and other kinds of meat. Hence, poor to middle income households resort to tilapia to meet their nutritional requirements for protein.

Aquaculture is a major source of income for many households in the three barangays2 or villages surrounding Lake Palakpakin . It is also a secondary source of income for many other households with small family business undertakings (such as stores, canteens, tricycle operators) and with members employed in construction sites and commercial establishments (such as shopping malls and restaurants) in the province city center which is just about a 5-15 minute tricycle ride. Tilapia harvests from Lake Palakpakin are largely sold at local markets in the city and other nearby cities of the province.

This paper reports the results of a socio-economic profiling study for a lake fishing community in the Philippines, a tropical developing country. The study aims to investigate the particular institutional framework and arrangements, production set-up and social structures in in-land water aquaculture that affect productivity, profitability and sustainability.

2.The Study Area

Lake Palakpakin. Lake Palakpakin is one of the so-called seven crater lakes in San Pablo City, a chartered city in the Province of Laguna, one of five provinces comprising Philippine Administrative Region 4A, which is just south of Metro Manila, the National Capital Region. Region 4A is the country's most populous region but is a far second to Metro Manila in terms of population density3 (Philippine Statistics Authority-PSA 2015).

Among the seven crater lakes, Lake Palakpakin is the second largest, with a surface area of 479,800 square meters (m2) or 47.98 hectares (ha). It is the shallowest, with an average water depth of 7.7 meters (Laguna Lake Development Authority-LLDA 2008). The estimated basin volume of the lake is 2.558 million cubic meters (Hardie 2015). Both the inlet and outlet of the lake are portions of the main stream of the Prinsa River. The inlet connects to the outlets of the three other crater lakes, namely, Calibato, Pandin and Yambo.

Although the lake was initially intended for communal fishing, the brisk construction of fish cages beginning in the 1980s has greatly limited the area for open fishing. …

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