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Fishing for Fairness

Fishing for Fairness: Poverty, Morality and Marine Resource Regulation in the Philippines

Michael Fabinyi
Volume: 7
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: ANU Press
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  • Book Info
    Fishing for Fairness
    Book Description:

    Fishing for Fairness develops an explicitly cultural perspective on environmental politics in the Philippines by analysing the responses of fishers to marine resource regulations. In the resource frontier of the Calamianes Islands, fishing, conservation and tourism provide the context where competing visions of how to engage with marine resources are played out. The book draws on data from ethnographic fieldwork with fishers, government and NGO officials, fish traders and tourism operators to show how the strategic responses of fishers to management initiatives are couched within particular cultural idioms. Tapping into broader notions of morality in the Philippines, fishers express a discourse that emphasises their poverty and the obligations of the wealthy to treat them with fairness. By deploying this discourse, fishers are able to reframe what are—on the surface—questions of environmental management into issues about poverty within particular social relationships. By using a cultural political ecology framework to analyse fishers' responses to regulation, the book emphasises the distinctive ways in which marginalised people in the Philippines resist and reframe resource management initiatives. Fishing for Fairness will appeal to both academics and policy makers interested in marine resource management, political ecology, anthropology and development studies particularly throughout the Asia-Pacific.

    eISBN: 978-1-921862-66-3
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Susan Russell

    Until relatively recent times, the coastal regions of insular Southeast Asia have had the elastic ability to absorb a variety of transient fishing populations from other islands who then within a generation or so assimilate to a new, more fluid ethnic identity. As new technologies have enabled fishing populations to expand ever further in search of lucrative fishing grounds, movement to new settlement areas and the amount of inter-island traffic and fish exports have increased apace. These processes are especially common in the Philippines, and Palawan in the west-central part of the archipelago has attracted many migrant groups in recent...

  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. Selected Tagalog Glossary
    (pp. xvii-xvii)
  6. Abbreviations
    (pp. xviii-xviii)
  7. Currency Conversion Rates
    (pp. xviii-xviii)
  8. 1. Introduction: Fishing for Fairness
    (pp. 1-20)

    This book is an analysis of how local coastal communities in the Calamianes Islands in the Philippines understand the relationship between power, wealth and the environment, and how this understanding has contributed to the current situation of marine resource management. Unlike perspectives that have sought to establish objective measures of this relationship, I am interested in how it is subjectively understood and represented, by examining how local discourse has shaped a process of contestation over marine resources. Such management contestations are a characteristic feature of the ‘resource frontier’ in the Calamianes Islands, where fishing, conservation and tourism enact competing visions...

  9. 2. Resource Frontiers: Palawan, the Calamianes Islands and Esperanza
    (pp. 21-52)

    This quote by the mayor of Rizal from a tourist pamphlet exemplifies some of the tensions and contradictions underlying understandings of the frontier in Palawan. Here, a fundamental tension between development and conservation is apparent. I have considered it worth quoting at length because it provides an excellent snapshot of how the nebulous concepts of development and conservation are constantly confused and strained in Palawan.

    While these comments could easily be simply dismissed as an example of the sort of political doublespeak for which politicians are so often criticised,¹ I prefer to view them as a valuable indication of some...

  10. 3. Economic, Class and Status Relations in Esperanza
    (pp. 53-90)

    The purpose of this chapter is twofold. Firstly, it will provide a detailed background to the sorts of social and economic relations that residents of Esperanza are frequently involved in, focusing in particular on relations in the fishing sector. Secondly, it will show how these relations can be characterised with reference to the idea of poorer people entering into reciprocal relationships with, and making claims on, those with more resources. Asking other residents to help pay for school fees or medicine; gaining access to a financier to fund equipment and individual fishing trips; moving to an alternative fishery; getting a...

  11. 4. The ‘Poor Moral Fisher’: Local Conceptions of Environmental Degradation, Fishing and Poverty in Esperanza
    (pp. 91-120)

    This second quote from Geronimo exemplifies two central features of local understandings about fishing and environmental degradation in Esperanza that were widely expressed. Firstly, so-called ‘illegal fishing’ is understood to be the prime factor behind environmental degradation; ‘legal fishing’ does not damage the environment or impact upon fish stocks. Secondly, these legal techniques only produce enough ‘just to survive’; legal fishing is closely tied to poverty. Based on these two features, it follows therefore that any regulation of fishing practices should concentrate on regulating those who are doing the damage to the environment, and those who can afford to be...

  12. 5. Fishing, Dive Tourism and Marine Protected Areas
    (pp. 121-148)

    One significant effort in regulating coastal areas of the Calamianes has been through the creation of a series of community-based marine protected areas (MPAs). These MPAs, established by a number of organisations and institutions over several years in particular diving sites, included a system of user fees. Fishers’ responses to these MPAs were ambiguous. I argue that these responses can be best analysed with reference to the ideas and representations bound up in the discourse of the poor moral fisher. I demonstrate how the attitudes and behaviour of fishers went a great way to shaping the particular character of these...

  13. 6. Fishing in Marine Protected Areas: Resistance, Youth and Masculinity
    (pp. 149-170)

    In the Calamianes, certain fishers continued to fish within MPAs, and expressed the view that they had a moral right to do so. These fishers represented fishing within MPAs as a form of resistance against unjust regulations, a topic related to the themes of the poor moral fisher. While these fishers did not always present themselves as pitiful, their justification of this form of fishing presented a ‘basic rights discourse’ that emphasised the value of fairness and the right of fishers to fish in all locations. I also argue, however, that only certain fishers deliberately worked inside the MPAs—younger...

  14. 7. The Politics of Patronage and Live Fish Trade Regulation
    (pp. 171-190)

    Arguments about regulation of the live fish trade erupted through the last few months of 2006 throughout Palawan Province to an extent that is only hinted at in the quote by Pomeroy and colleagues. This chapter details how the process of regulation was understood, expressed and contested by different stakeholders. It shows how the discourse of the poor moral fisher was an important part of how the regulations were eventually rejected, and illustrates how this discourse is deeply connected to notions about personalised governance and patronage.

    On one side of the argument, proponents of regulation such as conservationists and provincial...

  15. 8. Conclusion
    (pp. 191-200)

    This book has sought to demonstrate how local fishers in the Calamianes Islands understand the relationship between poverty and the environment, and how those understandings have framed and contributed to the outcomes of marine resource management policies. To support this argument, I have aimed to explicitly link two, related sets of literature. By using the insights of others interested in understanding social relations, reciprocity and cultural patterns in the Philippines, the aim of my book is to highlight the cultural perspective in analysing Philippine environmental politics. There are thus at least three primary themes running through the work. Firstly, I...

  16. References
    (pp. 201-222)
  17. Index
    (pp. 223-228)