Recently released reports have shown that in 2015, the aquaculture industry produced 5,913 metric tons of fish, compared with 2,438 metric tons of wild fish caught by fishermen.
Interestingly, despite the sharp increase in aquaculture production, which started in the 1990’s, caught fish production has also gone up. For instance, from the 1960’s up to 2007, save for a few fluctuations (including the 1996 one which is either an error or a very fruitful year) total captures seemed to hover around the 1,300 metric ton mark. Beginning in 2007 however, the amount of captured fish jumped up, and has for the past couple of years been around double what it historically was.
Whether this is a result of better equipment and newer fishing techniques being deployed by fishermen, or simply a change in how the authorities record the captures is difficult to determine.
What is abundantly clear is just how effective the government’s strategy to introduce fish farming in 1988 was: starting with sea bream and sea bass, the National Aquaculture Center was based at Fort San Lucjan. By 1990, only 3 metric tons of seafood were produced; this number increased 300 fold in just 4 years.
The majority of aquaculture produced fish these days is bluefin tuna, most of which is exported to Japan. A large number of sea bass, seabream and amberjack is also exported to Europe.
The local trend also compares similarly with the global one, which has seen a surge in aquaculture production as a greater number of people around the world are increasingly consuming more fish.
With a number of fish stocks highly stressed or endangered, most experts agree that fish farming is an efficient and sustainable way to produce protein.
Around a thousand people are directly employed in fish farming, while close to another thousand are indirectly involved in the sector.
Photo by Frank Vincentz.