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Open Access Publications from the University of California

World Cultures eJournal

UC Irvine

Fishermen’s Concepts of Environmental and Climate Change in Batangas, Philippines


This work is based on six weeks of field research at two separate field sites in Batangas, Philippines from March to April, 2014. The primary goal was to investigate cultural model(s) of nature held by full-time and subsistence fishermen in Batangas, Philippines in a very important marine ecological zone, the Verde Island Passage. Questions driving the research included (a) how do fishermen understand human relationships to various elements in the natural environment including weather, climate, fish, animals, and the supernatural, (b) how and why are the climate and natural environment changing (if they are changing) and (c) how and why is food production (fishing) changing.

People in both communities noted many changes in the natural environment and the weather. Many of these changes have had a direct and devastating impact on their livelihood as fishers and cultivators, especially for full-time fishermen who operate larger fishing vessels. While informants point to human activities that have polluted their fish habitats, especially in Bauan, their understanding of the relationships between climate change, environmental conditions, human activities, and other elements are nuanced and evolving. The tendency to view climate and weather as beyond human agency in general was noted in both field sites. Some recognized that these changes may eventually reach a tipping point at which they are broken beyond repair and/or humans can no longer adjust. Metaphors used to understand and talk about climate and weather changes included (1) the climate/weather as human and (2) climate/weather change as a cycle.

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