After reviewing the rather thin literature on the subject, we investigate the relationship between aquaculture and poverty based on a case study of five coastal communities in the Philippines. The analysis relies on a data set collated through a questionnaire survey of 148 households randomly selected in these five communities. The methodological approach combines the qualitative analysis of how this relationship is perceived by the surveyed households and a quantitative analysis of the levels and determinants of poverty and inequality in these communities. There is overwhelming evidence that aquaculture benefits the poor in important ways and that it is perceived very positively by the poor and non-poor alike. In particular, the poor derive a relatively larger share of their income from aquaculture than the rich, and a lowering of the poverty line only reinforces this result. Further, a Gini decomposition exercise shows unambiguously that aquaculture represents an inequality-reducing source of income. We believe that the pro-poor character of brackish water aquaculture in the study areas is explained by the fact that the sector provides employment to a large number of unskilled workers in communities characterized by large surpluses of labour. Our results also suggest that the analysis of the relationship between aquaculture and poverty should not focus exclusively on the socio-economic status of the farm operator/owner, as has often been the case in the past.
Irz, X.; Stevenson, J.R.; Tanoy, A.; Villarante, P.; Morissens, P. Working Paper 4 - Aquaculture and Poverty - A Case Study of Five Coastal Communities in the Philippines. (2004) 51 pp.