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When fishing is no longer viable: environmental change, unfair market relations, and livelihood in a small fishing community in the philippines

[working paper]

Castillo, Rosa Cordillera A.

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Corporate Editor Universität Bielefeld, Fak. für Soziologie, Centre on Migration, Citizenship and Development (COMCAD)
Abstract "The population of a small island in the middle of Danajon Bank in the Philippines, one of the six double barrier coral reefs in the world, is reliant almost solely on the resources of the sea for their livelihood. From the twenty families who originally settled in the island during World War II, the population has now soared to more than 300 families. The dramatic increase in the population is due to the migration of fishers to the island because of compressor fishing, a dangerous and unsustainable fishing practice introduced in the 1980s that ushered in a period of affluence in the island. In recent years, however, the affluence has given way to prolonged periods of suffering. Dwindling catch due to overexploitation of resources, increasing price of basic commodities, and unfair market relations in which the fishers’ catch are bought at very low prices have made hunger and indebtedness a common experience. This is compounded in recent months by changes in the environment such as winds that have become stronger, stay longer, and become more frequent, and sea waters that rise more often than before. Life has become very difficult for the fishers and they are left with very little viable options for their livelihood, forcing them to confront their attitude that there is no other livelihood aside from compressing fishing. Many have decided to migrate and work in other parts of the country as helpers or construction workers and, in recent months, many more are planning to leave despite the high financial costs of doing so and the uncertainty that awaits them. These are some of the key findings of an ethnographic study conducted over a period of 2 and ½ months of fieldwork. The study was able to document the complex and dynamic relationships of environmental change, unsustainable fishing practice, and unfair market relations, and how these impel population movement in the context of a small fishing community that is highly vulnerable to changes in the environment and the operation of the market. In the case of these fishers, migration could be seen as a desperate survival strategy of a people who have very little real options." (authors abstract)
Keywords fishery; climate change; market power; livelihood; inequality; equilibrium; relations of production; Philippines; sustainable development; migration; environment
Classification Economic Sectors; Ecology, Environment; Migration, Sociology of Migration
Document language English
Publication Year 2011
City Bielefeld
Page/Pages 24 p.
Series COMCAD Working Papers, 105
Status Published Version
Licence Deposit Licence - No Redistribution, No Modifications
data provider This metadata entry was indexed by the Special Subject Collection Social Sciences, USB Cologne