Rebuilding Fishing Communities and Fisheries

Post-Haiyan Reconstruction in the Philippines

Publication date: 12 February 2014
Author: Grizelda Mayo Anda, environmental lawyer and founding director of the Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC)

Fishing and coastal communities in the Philippines are among the poorest and the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and the risk of disasters. Women are central to fishery activities, and particularly vulnerable to the effects of Typhoon Haiyan on their livelihoods. This paper outlines the immediate recovery needs and gaps identified in the reconstruction efforts, and makes recommendations drawn from the fishing communities themselves. The paper also highlights policy and programme issues that must be addressed for effective, inclusive and sustainable recovery and rehabilitation efforts.

Key recommendations from the report:

Fisherfolk, together with their civil society partners, identified the following as issues that have hampered reconstruction efforts.  

    1. The lack of adequate livelihood support to account for the heavy damage sustained by fishery assets and facilities. Besides boats and equipment, facilities for drying, processing, storing fish, and for aquaculture are also needed;
    2. The lack or absence of data on the status of fisherfolk communities and coastal habitats. A key concern here is the exclusion of women in the government’s fishers’ registration programme; 
    3. Unclear guidelines on relief, recovery and reconstruction. Fisherfolk have found the guidelines for relocation, distribution of livelihood implements, the definition of damage, and the criteria for beneficiaries unclear;  
    4. A lack of secure tenure for fisherfolk communities, compounded by conflicting policies and enforcement issues. One concern is fisherfolk resettlement, which is provided in the Philippine Fisheries Code, but has not been enforced;
    5. A need for resource assessments of affected marine and coastal ecosystems. Mangrove forests and coral reefs were initially identified as having been affected by the typhoon; however, the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and/or the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has yet to conduct assessments. These assessments must be considered in the reconstruction plan.