Fishing and Socio-economic change in the Calamianes Islands.

Ateneo de Manila University Press
Publication Type:
Palawan and its Global Connections, 2014, pp. 140 - 160
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Fishing has long been the primary means by which residents of the Calamianes group of islands in northern Palawan have been socially and economically connected to other parts of the country and the region more generally. Like elsewhere in Palawan, many people have been drawn to the area primarily because of the opportunities provided by the natural resources of the region, and in the case of the Calamianes the most abundant natural resources are marine resources. The opportunity afforded by fishing – and a lack of opportunity in home provinces – has driven migration to the area, and the ensuing sale and distribution of these marine resources has linked the islands to larger economic networks from Manila to China and beyond. As such, fishing has been central to the ways in which the Calamianes has been connected to other places, and central to many of the social, economic and environmental changes occurring in the Calamianes itself1. This chapter will examine the links between fishing and the ‘global networks’ of Palawan, or more particularly the Calamianes Islands, by adopting a social historical perspective (McCoy 1982). I will focus my attention on two particular forms of fishing: muro-ami fishing (and latter incarnations of the closely related paaling fishing – hereafter referred to together for convenience simply as muro-ami), and the live reef fish for food trade (hereafter LRFFT). While various forms of fishing have been present in the recent history of the Calamianes, these two fisheries have been highly significant. Both fisheries have been important economically, and have drawn a great deal of academic and media attention well beyond Palawan. I focus on these two fisheries because they are prominent examples of, and give particular insights into, the ways in which the Calamianes Islands has formed linkages with external regions, and what some of the effects of these linkages have been. Firstly, they illustrate how many of the changes of the region have been closely tied to fishing economies – fishing has long been tied up with migration and economic development through integration with broader regional and international economies. Secondly, both fisheries are emblematic of many of the social and ecological concerns that have arisen from the ways in which these greater levels of integration have played out in the Calamianes. Both fisheries have been very important to the economy of the region, yet have aroused diverse, overlapping concerns about their social and ecological consequences.
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