|Tambuyog Development Center, Inc. ↗
The Philippine small-scale fisheries (SSF) sector accounts for half of the country’s seafood production but remains undervalued in terms of its contribution and role in fisheries governance. They are also the first to suffer from the combined effects of illegal fishing and resource degradation. Illegal fishing has consistently and significantly put a toll on the lives and livelihoods of small-scale men and women fishers. The 2021 USAID-Fish Right Program on ‘Quantifying the Prevalence and Impact of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IUUF) in the Philippines’ reported that around 27 to 40 percent (valued at approximately US$1.3 billion) of fish caught in 2019 came from illegal fishing. Similarly, Rhodora Azanza, professor emeritus at the Marine Science Institute of University of the Philippines Estimates of the Philippines, estimated that losses from IUUF and post-harvest losses set back the country's economy by about US$101.8 billion or nearly P5 trillion every year. Therefore, IUUF remains a constant threat to the sustainability of fisheries resources as it continues to undermine the efforts being made to improve the management of our fisheries resources.
These perennial challenges demand broader cooperation among the country’s small-scale men and women fishers to tackle fisheries concerns and advance the fisheries development and policy agenda of the sector. With its already geographically separated members, organizing a National Fishers Alliance will create a stronger and strengthened SSF sector with greater impact to effect policy changes towards securing their lives and livelihood and ultimately contribute to a more balanced narrative that will begin to address the social justice issues and inequities within the fisheries sector and improve the overall policy environment for SSF in the Philippines.
ALLFISH Project is an 18-month undertaking geared towards the development of a unified policy agenda by building a national alliance of small-scale fishers from the three major islands of the country. The national artisanal fisher’s alliance will be a broad formation of national, provincial and town level artisanal network from all over the archipelago. Addressing IUUF in the project is a critical step towards concerted actions against the critical roadblocks to the accrual of benefits to small-scale fishers.
Through the establishment of a broad network of small scale fisherfolk with a united common policy agenda and a strong focus on IUUF measures, the project aims to:
1. Engage Small scale fishers and fisherwomen in north-south and the central Philippines and distill the priority Fisheries issues (IUU, Policy reform) through a countrywide consultation process and prepare a unified agenda for policy roadmap amongst SSF's on IUU and other policy reforms.
2. Build and equip a nationally coordinated network/alliance of small-scale male and women fishers and leaders committed to advancing a unified agenda and effecting favorable policy changes.