Overfishing: The Exportation Trade of Philippine “Ornamental Fishes”

Si Fel

Above-written is a Filipino folk song about a fisherman named Felimon/Pilemon who once went fishing to the ocean and was able to catch only a small fish called Tambasakan (a Visayan local name for goby/mudskipper fish). He sold the fish to the market but the fish is awfully cheap that from the money he got from it, he was only able to purchase rice wine.

I find the storyline quite discouraging because looking at it in another perspective, a possible reason to why the fisherman did not have a good catch is that there is nothing much left in the sea to fish. Considering the world’s present situation, such case is indeed taking place – the exhaustion of aquatic resources.

Typhoons, tsunamis, and other natural events will probably threaten marine life but the majority of the contributing factors to the rapid loss of marine life are due to human activities. And according to various renowned organizations, one of the factors which have the most impact on the ocean is overfishing or over-exploitation of marine resources. Overfishing might seem to sustain food security at the moment but in the long run, this will eventually lead to the further shortage of aquatic resources.


Overfishing has been reported in many countries around the world and the Philippines is no exception. The Philippines is one of the world’s largest fish producer as of 2003 and it is due to the large-scale harvesting of fishes from every region of the country. Apart from the high local demand, another possible reason for Philippines’ overfishing dilemma is because of the high demand from the international market. The demand from other countries provokes local fishermen to capture a greater number of aquatic organisms.

One of the top exported aquatic resources of the Philippines is Ornamental Fishes’ which include various species from any varieties of aquatic animals (e.g. finfishes, sharks, rays, marine invertebrates, etc.). A distressing information is that ninety-five percent (95 %) of the exported ornamental aquatic animals were sourced directly from the ocean or from the wild. If this kind of practice will persist without comprehensive rules and regulations, it is sad to say that the biodiversity of the country’s marine life will indeed deteriorate.


Unfortunately, Philippines’ existing guidelines for catching and exporting ornamental fishes lack implementation and moreover exhibit deficiencies in many concerns.  There is also an insufficiency of scientific studies determining the present ecological status of the different aquatic organisms in the Philippine ocean.  What’s more, local fisherfolks are not well-educated to proper ways of manipulating the country’s aquatic resources.  If these problems shall not be addressed promptly, it’s sad to say that the Philippine seas shall come to a tragic conclusion.


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