Washington International Law Journal


Devon Shannon


The allocation of fishery resources is a critical concern for the Philippines municipal fishing sector where the global problem of overfishing has taken its toll on near-shore aquatic life. The dependency of coastal Filipino communities on fishery resources for nutrition and livelihood necessitates an analysis of the 1998 Philippine Fisheries Code's ("PFC's") ability to facilitate effective marine resource allocation at the municipal level. A comparison of international instruments addressing fishery resource management with the PFC reflects a clear intent on the part of the Code's drafters to emulate accepted international standards. In some areas, however, the PFC's ambiguous language hinders clear interpretation and renders lofty objectives unrealized. Concerns of small-scale fisherfolk regarding commercial sector access to municipal waters may be alleviated by strengthening local management and enforcement, or by amending the PFC to prohibit commercial fishing within the fifteen kilometer municipal water area. Restrictions on types of gear and destructive fishing methods, while limiting resource access, are necessary for ecosystem sustainability and have been modified to treat small-scale fishers more fairly. The devolution of implementation, management, and enforcement responsibilities of the PFC to local governments may be inadequate if proper funding and coordination is not facilitated at the national level. Finally, provisions for education and training in the PFC are limited and those provisions that have been included have not yet been successfully implemented. While subsequent interpretations of the PFC have supported resource allocation to municipal fisherfolk, overall implementation at both local and national levels has been constrained by a lack of oversight, coordination, and funding. Thus, while the PFC provides a framework for promoting the needs of municipal fisherfolk, it could be more comprehensive in supporting small-scale fishing interests through increased attention to provisions affecting resource allocation.

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