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Philippines Case Study


Source: Vreeland, Nena et. al. 1976. Area Handbook for the Philippines. Foreign Area Studies The American University, Washington, DC.

The Philippines, an archipelago of over 7,100 islands, is located along the southeastern rim of Asia between the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean. A tropical country, the Philippines has a uniform temperature year-round, with rainfall adequate for most agricultural needs. Quezon City, the country's capital, is located on Luzon, the largest and most populated island. Claimed by Magellan for Spain in 1521, the Philippines remained a Spanish colony for nearly three hundred years. With the end of the Spanish-American War, the country came under American rule. The Philippines finally gained its independence in 1946, although it retains close ties to the United States.

The Philippines is a fairly developed country in comparison with many other developing countries and supports an industrial complex that includes mining, manufacturing, and construction. Industrial production accounts for 35% of the country's gross national product. Agriculture, for both domestic and export markets, accounts for only 10%. Most agriculture is done by small farmers who produce rice, corn, and vegetables for family use; however, such cash crops as sugar, coconuts, and tobacco are grown for export. Over half of the population is engaged in agriculture of some kind, and 70% of all cultivated land is planted in food crops. Most small farmers in the Philippines subsist on a diet of rice, vegetables, and fish, with few other protein foods eaten except on special occasions. As a result, there are problems with malnutrition and diet-related diseases, especially among young children. This is exacerbated by the high rate of population growth in the Philippines. In recent years, the Philippine government has sponsored programs in rice and corn production, with the result that for the first time the country was marginally selfsufficient in rice production in 1977. However, the lack of protein in most

Filipinos' diets continues to be a problem, and the country is trying to close this gap by promoting both inland and marine fisheries development. The Peace Corps was invited to help in fisheries development in 1971.

Fisheries in the Philippines: An Overview

Although the Philippines has a coastline of over 10,000 miles, in 1971 there had been almost no development of marine fisheries on a commercial scale. Most fishermen went out to sea in small, dugout canoes equipped with outriggers, called bancas, and were able to catch only enough fish for their families' needs with a few left over to sell at the market. The Philippines had an estimated 600,000 small-scale fishermen who were fishing with bancas, 80% of which were not motorized. Fishermen continued to use traditional methods and equipment, even when they were aware of newer techniques, because little credit was available to help them purchase new fishing gear, and fishermen did not qualify for what credit was available. Few fishermen belonged to cooperatives, and fewer still had access to extension services or marketing facilities. The Philippines did have a fairly developed brackishwater fish pond industry, in which fry caught along the shore were raised to marketable size in fish ponds. However, such fish ponds were only available to those with some capital to invest, and most small scale fishermen did not participate in that kind of development.

Recognizing the need to get more protein to the people, in 1971 the Philippine government's National Food and Agriculture Council and the Philippine Fisheries Commission began a program to promote fish pond development throughout the country. Peace Corps was invited to participate in this program, and the first group of fisheries volunteers arrived later that year.

Peace Corps Involvement with Philippines Fisheries

The first group of fisheries volunteers arrived in 1971 to work at government fish farms to produce fingerlings that would be distributed to small farmers for their backyard fish ponds. These six volunteers worked for the Philippine Fisheries Commission, an agency of the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources. In 1972 a second group of fisheries volunteers was requested to work both in fingerling production and in brackishwater extension. These 27 volunteers were trained in the Philippines, receiving technical language, and cross cultural training at three different sites. During their two years in the country, the Commission was elevated to a bureau, the Bureau of Fisheries. Due to the success of the first two groups, the Bureau requested a third group of volunteers to work in brackish water extension. This group, including 19 volunteers, many of whom had advanced training in fisheries biology, arrived in 1973. Shortly thereafter the Bureau changed its name to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) under the ministry of Natural Resources.

Although none of these three fisheries groups were assigned to work with marine fisheries, individual volunteers did get involved with marine resources. For example, one volunteer from the second group worked with seaweed production, while another did research on eels. A volunteer from the third group began a research project in mussel culture in a sheltered bay off the island of Panay. However, it wasn't until the arrival of the fourth group later in 1973 that any volunteers were directly assigned to marine fisheries work.

The four volunteers in the fourth group were the first volunteers to be assigned to the Marine Fishery Biology Division and the results of their work were useful in developing and improving on-going research projects. These volunteers also helped BFAR identify other research needs, and by the middle of their tours, 17 other research positions were being requested from the Peace Corps. Only one of these volunteers, however, was actively involved in marine research. This volunteer was assigned to investigate oyster culture in a bay near Manila. His objectives were to investigate the feeding habits of oysters, compare the production of oysters by different methods, compare the growth rates of oysters in natural beds and under controlled conditions, and investigate the seasonal fluctuations of the planktonic food of oysters in the bay. The success of his research project led to the request for another group of volunteers, including one assigned to do marine research.

The fifth group of fisheries volunteers consisted of 11 volunteers; two in research, three in fisheries planning, and six in extension. Only one volunteer worked in a marine environment. This volunteer was assigned to work with a private organization, the Filipinas Foundation, helping them do research on the culture of shrimp. She did research on feeds, growth in controlled environments,

and other research requested by the Foundation. With the completion of these studies, the Foundation began production, and the volunteer was replaced by a Filipino. The volunteer then moved into freshwater research with the National Pollution Control Commission for the remainder of her tour.

The next group of fisheries volunteers arrived in 1975. This group included three marine fisheries volunteers, of which one worked with fishermen to continue the mussel project begun by a previous volunteer, and one did research on developing a shark fishery. The mussel project, originally funded by a local municipality, had expanded to become a model mussel farm under the auspices of BFAR. The volunteer assigned to the farm served as the liaison between the municipality and BFAR, and worked on marketing of the cultured mussels. The second volunteer worked with local fishermen to develop a spiny dogfish shark fishery to provide income to subsistence fishermen in Mindanao.

As part of this project, a private boat company donated a fiberglass dory to the volunteer to enable him to go out and survey dogfish shark populations to determine if such a fishery was feasible. This volunteer was able to complete his research, leaving behind a report describing the use of long bottom lines for shark fishing, a key to identifying sharks for commercial purposes, and a description of four species of sharks and their possible uses. As a result of his research, subsistence fishermen in the area have been fishing successfully for sharks and thus have a new source of income.

One of the volunteers was assigned directly to the BFAR Research Division at the Central Office in Manila with the job of identifying all the fish eggs and larvae in marine plankton samples taken by BFAR biologists on their research ship. The Bureau had selected 13 marine areas around the country that were thought to be important nursery areas for commercial fish species, and was trying to identify which species were important in which areas. The Bureau hoped to quantify the fisheries potential for these areas prior to promoting the development of a large-scale fishing industry offshore. The volunteer also worked with BFAR biologists to re-orient the project and standardize sampling methods.

Another volunteer submitted a research proposal on coral reefs in the Philippines as a special project to the Director of BFAR with the objectives of determining the extent of reef areas and their contribution to the fisheries resources of the Philippines. This volunteer worked on generating baseline ecological research data to support measures to preserve important reef areas. This project was funded by BFAR and received support from the Smithsonian Institution in the form of literature. The project leadership for the coral reef project was given to the volunteers, and they completed a survey and submitted the data generated to the Research Division.

The First Marine Fisheries Group

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources continued to request fisheries volunteers for a variety of positions, primarily for areas where lack of trained manpower was evident. In 1976 the BFAR began to develop programs in marine fisheries, designed both to identify marine resources and to protect valuable fishery areas. As part of this program BFAR requested another fisheries group, which was to include marine fisheries volunteers. The seventh fisheries group arrived in 1976, and in this group there were volunteers with degrees in biological oceanography, ecology, natural resources management, and marine science. Out of the group of 24 volunteers seven were assigned originally to marine research, while the remainder were involved with inland fisheries extension and research. The marine fisheries volunteers received language, cross-cultural, and technical training. During their training program they were introduced to the different groups involved with marine research in the Philippines, and were given an orientation by BFAR staff on the marine research program goals.

One of the marine fisheries volunteers was assigned to BFAR's Central Office in Manila along with a previously-assigned PCV to work in the hydrobiological survey in the 13 regions of the country as an assistant team leader. He also assisted in managing the operations of the Metro Manila Aquarium at the Philippine Village, and on the coral reef project.

Two volunteers were assigned to the Marine Sciences Center, University of the Philippines as a result of the Center's request for marine biologists. Both PCVs were assigned primarily to the Coral Reef Survey Project; one was directly responsible to the Center in Manila and the other PCV was assigned to the Marine Station in Cebu City. One of these PCVs and a volunteer assigned to extension wrote a joint proposal to start a mussel culture and research project under the Blue Revolution Program in Tayabas Bay off Luzon. The volunteers constructed mussel plots and planted the mussel seeds. With the help of the Center's laboratories these two volunteers were able to begin production of mussels after a baseline survey on population density. On their recommendation, BFAR hired a recently graduated Filipina to work with them. When they left, she became the project leader and another volunteer was assigned to the project as technical advisor. This project was considered a great success by everyone connected with it, and it received good support from local people as well as the University and BFAR staff. The volunteer assigned to the Marine Science Center at the University of the Philippines also created a research library to help with this and the coral reef project.

Another volunteer was assigned as a marine fisheries researcher at the District Fisheries Office in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. He submitted a research proposal to do a biological survey of commercially important species of Honda Bay with the final objective of determining the future fishing potential in the bay. This volunteer was given the authority to hire two junior biologists to assist him in this project. As an offshoot of this project, BFAR funded the publication of ''Philippine Shore Fishes of the Western Sulu."

Another volunteer in this group was assigned to do tuna research on the island of Mindanao. The volunteer was given an unused fisheries station to set up as an office and was allowed to select his own co-worker, a college graduate from a local university.

The objective of this project was to survey the tuna catch, methods of capture, and effectiveness of capture methods, and to develop charts showing yearly populations and migrations of tuna in the area. The project was funded by BFAR, although halfway through additional funding was received from the Philippine Council on Agricultural Research. Eventually the volunteer was able to recruit eight more staff members from other BFAR offices to work on this project. The volunteer wrote a paper on the tuna industry and made recommendations for future improvements. Another volunteer was assigned to this project at the end of this volunteer's tour as a technical assistant.

Other volunteers in this first marine research group worked on an artificial reef project proposed by a volunteer and supported by the Marine Sciences Center, the U.S. Navy and Air Force, and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Working with local fishermen, the volunteer who proposed this project was able to build four artificial reefs offshore of a small coastal village to help improve the fisheries resources of the area. He was able to develop a library for the village as well. Other volunteers in the group worked on oyster culture, coral reef research, and fisheries education of fishermen.

Volunteers Continue in Marine Research

In 1977 another group of fisheries volunteers arrived in the Philippines, of which five were assigned to marine fisheries research. These volunteers had degrees and experience in marine biology, and received technical training in aquaculture as well as language and cross-cultural training. Two of these volunteers were assigned to an island in the Cebu region, one to do research on the rabbitfish, and the other to develop a seaweed demonstration farm. The volunteers were supported by BFAR funding, although they did not at first have any counterparts. The volunteer working on rabbitfish did general ecological research on the different species of rabbitfish in the area, selected the species that grew best, and was able to spawn and grow the fish in cages suspended in the ocean. Eventually a local fisherman was hired and trained to take over this project as BFAR project leader. The volunteer working on the seaweed farm was able to start the first seaweed project in the region for BFAR. Both volunteers felt their projects were successful because they were oriented to providing immediate results that could be used by local people to improve their situations.

In 1977 a small group of volunteers were recruited to work as fisheries educators, and in 1978 another marine research group arrived. This latest group of researchers is working as municipal fisheries extensionists, mariculture extensionists, fishery products technologists, ice plant technicians, and statisticians. Most of these projects provide services to the subsistence fishermen, including improving processing and marketing facilities, providing technical support, increasing their incomes, and improving the level of information about marine resources of the Philippines. Peace Corps anticipates that volunteers will continue to be recruited for marine fisheries projects in the Philippines at least through 1982.

Evaluation of the Project

Although most of the fisheries projects in the Philippines have not been evaluated formally by the Peace Corps, it is generally understood that these projects are among the most successful that Peace Crops has ever had. Marine fisheries projects, however, are fairly new and there have been some problems in organization and management of marine projects within the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. Technical staff of BFAR have participated in the training and job placement of volunteers recruited for extension and fingerling production since the first group arrived in 1971. Techniques for training marine volunteers had never been used before. With the success of programs for self-sufficiency in rice and corn from the so-called "Green Revolution", the Philippine government launched a new program called the "Blue Revolution" designed to reach self-sufficiency in fish production. Thus, there was plenty of money for projects, especially those investigating the potential for commercial fisheries, and support from BFAR was very good. The Peace Corps/Philippines Country Management Plan for 1977 makes the following statement: "... self sufficiency in fish production is high in the priority list of the Philippine Government. The only main drawback of PC/P involvement in this effort is our inability to supply the required number of volunteers. Nevertheless, the program is making a significant contribution to the Philippine effort, enjoys the full support of the HCAs (host country agencies) concerned, and affords the volunteers the opportunity to relate with Filipinos in various areas and from all walks of life. Hence, it now ranks as the top priority program of Peace Corps Philippines."*

Throughout Peace Corps Involvement with fisheries there has been excellent support from the Director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, and from his central and regional office staff. Most volunteers have stayed for their full two-year tours, while many have extended for a third year to complete their work. Credit for the success of fisheries projects has been due also to the Peace Corps' fisheries program managers who have worked closely with the Bureau and with volunteers in the field. In summary, volunteers have been able to increase fish production, improve the level of knowledge about marine resources, introduce cultivation of new food resources, and train Filipino counterparts in scientific techniques. Both the Peace Corps and the Philippine Government consider marine fisheries projects worthwhile and plan to continue working together in this field.

Successes and Failures

The marine fisheries projects in the Philippines, though very new and still in a trial period, have had success due to several factors, including these:

· The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources gave support to all volunteers in terms of good planning of projects, good job placement, funding for volunteers' projects, equipment and materials and counterparts. When counterparts were not available volunteers were given the authority to hire and train their own. Many of these counterparts then became project leaders after the volunteers left. In the past volunteers spent a good deal of time preparing project proposals for funding: however, this has been changing and new volunteers are able to move right in to work on a project that has been funded before their arrival.

· Support from the Peace Corps has been excellent as well. The Peace Corps' fisheries program manager served as liaison between volunteers and BFAR, worked with BFAR planners to develop new projects, visited volunteers at their sites, and provided technical support in terms of literature for volunteers in the field. Since 1973 there have been three different program managers, but all have been able to continue this support.

· All volunteers in the marine fisheries projects have been trained in the Philippines. Even though most of their training was in language and cross-cultural studies, volunteers were able to see how fisheries in the country operated, and most felt prepared to begin their work within a short time. Most educated Filipinos speak English very well, and all scientific work is done in English, so volunteers did not have problems with language. However, most volunteers learned local dialects as well in order to communicate with local fishermen.

· Filipinos in general are very receptive to Americans. Volunteers were always accepted and found it easy to make friends and socialize. However, there were some misunderstandings between volunteers and co-workers over scientific practices.

In summary, most marine fisheries projects in the Philippines have been successful and have contributed to the health and well-being of Filipinos. Fisheries projects are a top priority for the Government of the Philippines and, rightly so, for the Peace Corps as well. Future projects will utilize skill trained volunteers who will provide assistance to small fishermen by improving traditional fishing techniques, forming cooperatives for better marketing of fish, and providing technical advice through extension services to help increase their income and provide more fish for the diets of all Filipinos.