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World Bank: Philippines Running Short of Fish

PHILIPPINES - Estimates show that if the present rapid population growth and declining trend in fish production continue, only 10 kilograms of fish will be available per Filipino per year by 2010, as opposed to 28.5 kilograms per year in 2003.

Currently, the Philippines is home to almost 90 million people. "About 62 percent of the population lives in the coastal zone," said the Philippine Environment Monitor published by the World Bank.

The Philippines has one of the highest population growth rates in the world, with an average annual rate of increase of 2.75 percent during the last century.

"Without any change in fish consumption and no active human population management program," the World Bank report warns, "domestic demand for fish will reach 3.2 billion kilograms by 2020, given the projected population growth rate of the country."

If increased demand is met solely by marine capture fisheries, such increased pressure on the fisheries sector could lead to an eventual collapse of fisheries and the fishing industry, which employs more than one million people (about five percent of the national labor force).

"All fisheries are showing decline in total catch and per unit effort (total number of fish caught per unit of time) despite increasing effort," the World Bank report noted. "Fish are harvested at a level 30 to 50 percent higher than the natural production capacity."