Bacolod City – The amount of fish caught around the country is dwindling to dangerous levels which threatens the livelihood of 60 percent of the population dependent on fishing, reports a research study of Remelyn I. de Ramos of the Marine Sciences Institute of the University of he Philippines, at Diliman.
The study said the most pronounced impact is being experienced in the two provinces of the Negros Island Region. The only food item that the region does not source from neighboring regions is fish, which can still be caught at the Tanon Strait and the waters of Negros Occidental.
FISHING AND POPULATION
The island region has a total population of 4,194,527 based on the latest census. Negros Occidental has a population of 2,907,859 while Negros Oriental only has 1,286,666 inhabitants.
The poverty level in Negros Occidental is high at 32.9 percent of the entire population, with 24.9 percent below the threshold. Meanwhile, the poverty situation in the other half of the region is severe at 50.1 percent or 43.9 percent of all families.
The study warned that the problem will be exacerbated by the dire consequences of climate change like typhoons, and the expected prolonged drought due to the impact of both the El Niño and La Niña phenomena.
CLIMATE CHANGE WOES
De Ramos discussed the impact of climate change on fisheries in a paper published by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (Searca) recently.
Her paper, “Assessing Vulnerability of Fisheries in the Philippines to Climate Change Impacts,” was released through the Searca Agricultural Development Seminar Series.
Searca Director Dr. Gil C. Saguiguit Jr. said the paper of De Ramos also disclosed the impact of climate change on declining catch over the years as well as the depletion of fish stock in many of the country’s 13 traditional fishing grounds.
De Ramos urged government to take stock of the critical problems besetting fisheries, which is the bread and butter of around 1.5 million citizens, many of them classified by the Philippine Statistical Authority (PSA) as belonging to the poorest of the poor.
The marine scientist stressed that “fish stocks in major fishing grounds have been reduced to less than 10 percent of the levels in the 1950s.”
De Ramos also revealed that “the average catch today is less than 50 percent of the catch in the 1970s.”
The UP researcher noted that the Philippines is being battered by the three significant climate change factors affecting fisheries, which are the increase in surface sea temperatures (SST), ocean acidification and typhoons.