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The net, the fish and the child: The muro-ami system, transformation in coastal communities of southern Cebu 1900 - 2000

Pursell, Tricia (2002) The net, the fish and the child: The muro-ami system, transformation in coastal communities of southern Cebu 1900 - 2000. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Abstract

Muro Ami is a system of drive in net fishing that originated in Okinawa in the early 1900s and spread southward with the country's economic expansion to Southeast Asia until the Second World War. While it died out in most of the region, it has continued in the Visayas in the Philippines, where there were extensive coral reefs and an impoverished, labour force with few options. Muro-ami was originally a communal-based fishing system, but in the Philippines, from the 1960s, it has scaled up to become an exploitive, Dickension system that uses factory ships and relies on a large labour force of youth; many of whom are bound to the operators through systems of credit bondage. These youths and their families are trapped in cycles of indebtedness and dependency that binds them to provide a son for the next season's fishing.

This thesis also describes the scaling up of muro-ami in the Visayas after the Pacific War, in response to a post-war demand from growing cities for larger quantities of fresh fish. The different consumption patterns that occurred with the growing affluence in certain sectors of Filipino life resulted in a demand for particular types of fish. These changing tastes in tum had an impact on fishing techniques and resulted in the intensification of muro-ami fishing. As a result, hundreds of boys were utilised in an industrial-scale fishing system to scare fish into bag nets. Increasingly more destructive gear modifications and adaptations were created to improve the catch, not just of the mid-level fish that school above the reef, but of the bottom dwelling fish as well. As a result, coral reefs have been severely damaged and fish stocks are being depleted. Muro-ami's operations at the resource frontier(s) has put them largely beyond the control of state regulators, allowing them to maximise yields. However, this overfishing and destruction of the marine environment severely threatens future food security in the Philippines.

Publication Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Asian Studies
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: repository@murdoch.edu.au. Thank you.
Supervisor: Warren, Carol
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/41504
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