Restored fisheries abundance should mitigate hunger and poverty – Oceana
Press Release Date: December 13, 2023
Our fisheries can very well feed our people and no one among us, Filipinos deserve to be hungry. The Philippines ranks second in the world in terms of population who are highly dependent on healthy and vibrant oceans for nutrition, livelihood, and coastal protection. Sadly, our ocean is threatened by human-induced pressures that caused an alarming decline of fish population, such as rampant overfishing and the continuing destruction of marine habitats.
Oceana issued this statement following the release of the results of the recent Social Weather Survey on September 28-October 1, 2023, indicating that 9.8% of Filipino families experienced involuntary hunger. This is characterized by being hungry and not having anything to eat – at least once in the past three months.
“Filipinos are highly dependent on the consumption of seafood aside from rice and vegetables. Seafood is an inexpensive and accessible source of animal protein, rich in critical micronutrients, such as iron, zinc, vitamin A, and omega-3 fatty acids that should address stunted growth, malnutrition and other ailments that are, otherwise, preventable. We call on the government to seriously work on the restoration of our fisheries abundance to significantly reduce the incidences of hunger and health challenges, especially among the poor,” said Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos, Oceana Vice President.
The State of Fish in Nutrition Systems (FINS) in the Philippines published by Oceana and MRAG Asia Pacific, in cooperation with the Department of Science and Technology-Food and Nutrition Institute (DOST-FNRI) reported the continuous decline of seafood consumption from 36 kg per capita, annually in 1993 to 14.32 kg in 2018-2019. The decline is alarming, according to Oceana because the same DOST-FNRI study in 2020 showed that fish comprises 42.2% of the total animal protein intake of Filipinos and 18.3% of their total protein intake.
Among the findings of the study was the undervaluation of coral reefs’ contribution to food and livelihood security considering that these provide 50 times more employment than commercial fishing in Exclusive Economic Zones. The reefs are also important in supporting various life stages of fishes, including groupers (lapulapu), snappers (mayamaya), rabbitfish (danggit), sardines and roundscad (galunggong).
Seafoods that are gleaned from intertidal zones, like sea cucumbers and shells, are steady sources of important nutrients for Filipinos but are underappreciated . Another problem revealed by the study was the unreported catch of commercial fishing that contributes to underestimation of fish and seafood supply.
Ramos said the findings in the FINS study “should fire us up to restore the once-deep seated relationship that we had with our ocean and make it the wellspring of health, livelihoods and well-being of our people. We laud some of our local government champions who have set the standards high for nutrition, wellness and ecological integrity as priority programs for their constituents.”
Oceana works with fisherfolk, other civil society groups, academe, and local and national government agencies in developing and implementing the National Sardines Management Plan through the 12 Fisheries Management Areas in the country. Aside from sardines, other fish and seafood are managed and the marine habitats and other ecosystems that contribute to fisheries production are protected.
“With the findings in the FINS study, we are venturing into partnerships with local government and national government agencies, hand-in-hand with fisherfolk, in developing plans and programs to effectively bring nutritious fish and seafood on the table of households, particularly in coastal communities. Let us be better stewards of our ocean and enhance the well-being of the present and the future generations,” Ramos said. (END)
Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control one-quarter of the world’s wild fish catch. With more than 275 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, oil and plastic pollution, and the killing of threatened species like turtles, whales, and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that 1 billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal, every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world. Visit Oceana.org and ph.oceana.org to learn more.