CFLC OPERATIONALIZATION AS STAKEHOLDER-MANAGED TRADE AND LOCAL FISHERY INFORMATION AND SUSTAINABILITY HUB (COASTALFISH)
The CFLC Operationalization As Stakeholder-Managed Trade and Local Fishery Information and Sustainability Hub (COASTALFISH) Project aims to provide the technical support, requisite linkages and capacities for its partner people’s organizations (POs), Municipal Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Councils (MFARMCs) and the Local Government Units (LGUs) to operate their respective Community Fish Landing Centers (CFLC) as fishery resource management and enterprise incubation hub
Within its project term, the COASTALFISH project intervention will pilot the development and operationalization of at least four (4) CFLC facilities in 6 Municipalities (Municipalities of Agdangan, Macalelon and Mulanay in Tayabas Bay and Municipalities of Alabat, Perez, and Quezon in Lamon Bay) to serve as a venue for sustainable and disasterresilient resource management, development of electronic fish catch documentation and traceability system (ECDTS), and social enterprise development.
Tambuyog will facilitate the designing and development of the CFLC (i) coastal resource management plan (with focus on integration of a catch documentation and traceability/local monitoring, control and surveillance system, and advocacies against Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported Fishing-IUUF), (ii) manual of operations and business process management plan as a fishing landing center and enterprise incubation hub.
To ensure that the CFLCs remain operational, the project aims to facilitate its development as a stakeholder-managed/co-managed facility with the local government units. This will require building of (a) local networks (LGUs, POs, MFARMCs) and (b) fishing ground/fisheries management areas. As a pioneering development intervention, this will also require capacity building and skills development for sets of leaders that will be directly engaged by the CFLC. The capacity development will focus on providing the members of the organizations with trainings on participatory research, data management and analysis, knowledge sharing/management systems, data-driven policy development and decision-making, and data-driven enterprise development. The sustainability of the operation of the CFLCs as fisheries management and enterprise development hub also hinges on securing the support and continued participation of fishers from the communities. This can be done through regular community consultations and marketing of the services of the CFLCs.
The municipal fisherfolks are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Living below the poverty threshold and without government or external support, the fisherfolk sector is constantly under threat. Climate change is expected to continue to cause negative impacts on coastal communities and municipal fisheries. More extreme weather events like typhoons and storm surges remain a constant threat to the municipal fisherfolks and coastal communities. Adaptation mechanisms are needed especially for these areas as they are at the geographical forefront of these threats. Early warning systems and designated areas for monitoring climate change will reduce these threats to human life and allow the fishing communities to prepare and be better equipped to conduct preventive measures (e.g. by better informing community members and providing alternative sources for their basic needs so they are not forced to go out fishing during bad weather conditions) and respond to the threat more effectively (e.g. tracking community members every time they go out to sea to fish). The CFLCs can serve as a support infrastructure for institutionalizing climate change response and adaptation strategies.
Considering that coastal ecosystems are severely degraded, an important element of any adaptation strategy is to reduce human threats to corals, mangrove areas, seagrass beds, estuaries, living shorelines and other coastal ecosystems. In this way these ecosystems can increase the ability of coasts to cope with climate change. But the lack of coastal infrastructures for monitoring and consolidation of these strategies will likely convert these supposedly concerted efforts into fragmented activities. With these adaptation strategies not currently in placed, all efforts and investments towards improving their economic welfare can be negated easily by climate change impact on coastal communities. This has been observed in many areas during the consecutive typhoons in combination with the Covid-19 pandemic impact on the livelihoods of many coastal communities.
Through Tambuyog’s rapid assessment conducted in the last quarter of 2020, there were also community reports on the increase in illegal fishing activities and increased pressure on the fisheries resource stocks resulting from the influx of other community members previously not engaged in fishing. Without proper monitoring and reporting infrastructure, this can be expected to continue to happen. Persistent Fragmentation and Data Poverty The municipal fisherfolks sector can be described as fragmented with little bargaining power in markets (FAO 2004). Moreover, the Census of Fisheries conducted in 2002 reported that 98% of fishers do not belong to a legal form of organization and operate as independent fishers. Not much has changed in almost two decades. It is therefore not surprising that the sector4 has the second highest (next to farmers) poverty incidence at 26.2% based on the 2018 latest estimate of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). The aggregate production of municipal fishery matches the average annual production of its commercial counterpart. However, due to the small scale and fragmented production, their contribution to national production is not often repaid with equivalent and direct infusion of investments to the communities.
As a primary producer of seafood and support for local food consumption, municipal fisher’s role in food security has been highlighted during the Covid-19 pandemic. The operationalization of CFLCs will allow this sector to better formalize their representation and contributions to production in fisheries and demand for more concrete industry supports. The fragmentation in production also extends to the capacity of the sector to directly participate in developing a more community-oriented fisheries management and decision-making due to a general lack of community-maintained data and information. While the fishers have secured their position in
representative assemblies (e.g. I/MFARMCs and alliances), the opportunities for greater participation are yet to be fully realized. Policies and strategies coming from the national government are often based on generalized data that do not necessarily reflect the nuances and actual situation of concerned localities. Additionally, small-scale fisheries has been historically considered part of the informal sector, i.e. activities outside the formal economy regulated by economic and legal institutions. Municipal fisheries production has been monitored and valued as part of the gross domestic product since the 1950s with accurate and timely data but was deemed invaluable for effective fisheries management due to lack of locally curated fishery data. While there has been numerous researches conducted, including the more recent National Stock Assessment Program (NSAP) of the DABFAR which collected sample data on major pelagic and demersal species in major fishing grounds of the country, there remains data poverty in most areas. This results in information asymmetry between the regulatory agencies and the municipal fishers.
Externally-initiated researches like the NSAP only extract the data on the ground and are often not communicated back to the communities. Access to the databases remains limited to the respective government agencies and institutions that funded their collection. Much remains to be done in terms of enhancing the capacity of fisherfolk organizations especially in the area of transforming the gains from this infrastructure development into increased capabilities in resource management and community enterprise. While associations, as a form of fisherfolk organization, has shown successes in empowering municipal fisherfolks in pushing for reforms, there is a need to increase support for cooperative development as both an economic—and the only legal business entity for people’s organizations at present with better structures for economic empowerment—and advocacy organizations. The design of the CFLC requires professional management that cooperatives are expected to perform more effectively and efficiently.
Barriers to Participation: Women and other Community Members
Although women are predominantly found in the pre- and post harvest activities, their labor is not properly valued. The fishing industry is focused on economically important production activities for the market whereas women’s capture activities e.g. capture of milkfish fry and shell gleaning are usually for household consumption and are not subjected to valuation. Women are also involved in hauling nets, installing stationary gears and sometimes even joining capture fishing activities. Women’s role in fishing activities are diverse on top of their multiple tasks in ensuring the survival of their households.
However, their participation do not count in the final production outputs because they are often considered only as extensions of their male counterparts. Nevertheless, women continue to be at the forefront of resource management with their nurturing and caring capacity. Although they often act as representatives of fishing households to trainings and other community activities, there is still a lack of formal representation, nonrecognition of participation in co-management bodies and lack of access to economic resources. These are some of the constraints that women face as they continue to define their role in coastal resource management.
Engendering the fishing industry will start from an articulated women fisheries agenda towards developing gender responsive policies and programs for women in fisheries. There should be emphasis on women organizing, not just gender mainstreaming, in efforts to realize gender equality in the fishing industry. The inclusion of women in Fisherfolk Registration formalizes their participation in the sector. Similarly, the recognition of their role in livelihoods and enterprise development projects has started to gain traction. In terms of improving access to and developing financial and physical capital were the need for greater effort of organized small-scale fisherfolks and their advocates. This is crucial in terms of providing the foundation for success in the
different aspects of sustainable fisheries development including resource management, enterprise development and social protection.
There is greater demand for provision of organizational development services to women fisher organizations as the menu of interventions expands in focus through the establishment and operationalization of a women fisherfolk organization or institutionalization of committees on gender and development among fisherfolk organizations. Capacity building activities shall emphasize the development of strategies, structures and systems of women fisher organizations, and the enhancement of the knowledge, skills and attitudes of women leaders.
Underutilized Infrastructure The Community Fish Landing Center5 (CFLC), a 2015 project under the Targeted Actions to Reduce Poverty and Generate Economic Transformation (TARGET) in the Fisheries Sector of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources’ (BFAR) umbrella program, is among the interventions aimed at enhancing local infrastructures in coastal areas with high poverty incidence and large population of registered fisherfolks identified by the BFAR’s FishR6 Program. Each infrastructure for the first set of sites, as reflected under the 2015 General Appropriations Act (GAA), would cost PHP 2.85M. For the second set of sites for 2016, the infrastructure costs was raised PHP 3.0M. A total of 252 CFLCs were completed in the first 2 years. A total of 725 CFLCs are expected to be established within the country. The construction of Fish Landing Centers (FLCs) also paved the way to provision of other post-harvest facilities and equipment (e.g. chest
freezers/refrigerators and stainless steel tables for cleaning fish catch) targeted to reduce post-harvest losses and improve socio-economic conditions in the selected areas. The facility was designed to serve as a consolidation area and later to be developed as a hub for economic activities, information center for sustainable and disaster-resilient fisherybased livelihoods and resource management, and monitoring of fish catch and stocks assessment. Accounting for the impacts of its location near the sea, each CFLC has an expected lifetime of 25 years. As of the writing of this proposal, while there are areas which has started to operate, no municipality has yet to report a fully functional CFLC.