In October 2009, a small cargo plane crashed exactly at the back of our house killing all four of its crew and burning part of our shed where my family stores scrap wood. Thankfully no one in our family compound was hurt, however fifteen homes burned to the ground in addition to the fatalities of the cargo plane which ships live fish caught in aquaculture pens in Puerto Princesa and other parts of Palawan.
Towards the end of 2009, I was invited to observe in one of the executive committee meetings of the Palawan Council on Sustainable Development, though not directly involved, the discussion has focused on the trade of live fish but committee members were focusing on aviation safety of the live fish trade rather than the sustainability issues associated with increasing demand for live fish in Chinese restaurants all over the Philippines.
The canning industry for fish products like tuna, sardines and mackerel have declined for 2011, fish catch was controlled because it has exceeded the maximum sustainable yield of fish stocks particularly for these commercial pelagic species. This has major economic impacts to supply chains relying on continued production of fish stocks.
It took me four years to learn resource economics plus an additional two years of graduate studies to understand the role biological resources have on economic development but the advance knowledge has prevented me from communicating to the common man of its importance. For most, the sea gives fish and as long as God loves us, he will provide fish for our needs and that provision is still attainable through a can of sardines which is a staple food source of majority of Filipinos. It is still fish only in a can. Not knowing that dwindling fish stocks and destroyed marine ecosystems is equivalent to a house burnt down.