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Aquaculture for Rural Development (ARD) in the Philippines: Privatization vs. Community Property Rights

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Escober, J.E.J.
Conference: Survival of the Commons: Mounting Challenges and New Realities, the Eleventh Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Bali, Indonesia
Conf. Date: June 19-23, 2006
Date: 2006
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/816
Sector: Fisheries
Water Resource & Irrigation
Region: East Asia
Subject(s): IASC
artisanal fishing
open access
environmental policy
coastal resources
property rights
Abstract: "In the Philippines, a de facto open-access situation in fisheries persists despite progressive fishery laws in recent years that allocate use of coastal and inland areas between artisanal fishers on the one hand, and commercial capture fishers and aquaculture operators on the other hand. Weak state institutions and lax implementation of laws have gone hand in hand with a threefold increase in the last twenty years in the population of artisanal fishers eking out subsistence from badly degraded fishery resources and coastal ecosystems. "Advocates and practitioners of community-based coastal resources management (CBCRM) in the country have pushed for the adoption of community property rights (CPR) systems that would address open access, bring cost and benefit decisions together, foster sustainable resource use and mitigate socioeconomic inequities in coastal communities. "However, a cause for concern is the gathering momentum in the implementation of the Aquaculture for Rural Development (ARD) program of the government. There has been widespread criticism to this approach among artisanal fishers, which they see as a reprise of shrimp aquaculture expansion that resulted in the clear cutting of mangrove forests from the 1960s to the mid 1990s. "The ARD program is likely to result in more negative externalities, heightened conflict over coastal resources, and increased income disparity and poverty for artisanal fishers and coastal communities. It will induce the entry of opportunistic "investors" interested in short- term financial gains but not in the sustainable utilization of resources over the long term. Thus, it is a looming threat to community property rights regimes that are still in the early stages of development by local fisherfolk organizations and their allied institutions. "In achieving community property rights, it is envisioned that negative externalities will be minimized or eliminated altogether, and the continuity of benefit streams (to the community and society as a whole) ensured in the long run. This framework can be effectively employed in countering trends towards privatization of coastal resources that is likely to accompany the implementation of the ARD program being bruited by the national government. "Amid projections of a slowdown of production growth in capture fisheries, government is putting priority on the establishment of marine aquaculture parks, initially in selected sites across the country but eventually on a widespread basis. Most, if not all, of these areas are within municipal waters and conflict between mariculture operators and municipal capture fishers is expected "To ensure sustainable and equitable management of fisheries and coastal resources, including both capture and culture activities in nearshore waters, municipal fisherfolk should effectively hold preferential use rights to these areas to which they are entitled based on existing laws. Further, any development leading towards the expansion of marine aquaculture must be within the context of comprehensive coastal resource management plans (RMPs), which would include limits to the extent of these areas, zonation of municipal waters, internalization of environmental costs to be borne by mariculture operators, support services for fisherfolk cooperatives engaged in aquaculture and measures such as environmental bonds to operationalize the precautionary principle."

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