Surviving a Reclamation Project: Shifting Fisherfolk Provisioning Strategies in a Metropolitan City

Zona Hildegarde S. Amper

Abstract

Development has often been equated with modernization and urbanization, as reflected in government development programs such as the Cebu Integrated Area Development Master Plan (CIADMP). One of the flagship projects under the CIADMP is the 330.9-hectare Cebu South Reclamation Project (CSRP) formulated by foreign consultants, local government authorities, and the business sector. Underlying these indicators of economic development that encourage such projects, urban fishing communities have been uprooted from their livelihoods that are reliant on the sea subsequently reclaimed by the project. This study focuses on how the affected fisherfolk in Cebu City changed their household provisioning strategies as a result of the CSRP. The study primarily utilized ethnographic research methodologies, including key informant interviews, focus group discussions, deep hanging out, and field observation. Newspaper research and secondary data analysis were likewise done to supplement field data. Findings are based on the narratives of the affected residents, which show that prior to the CSRP, primary livelihood strategies of most residents revolved around small-scale fishing practices: panawom (diving/spear fishing), pamasol (hook and line fishing), pamukot (fishing using mesh nets), panginhas (gleaning), and panu (gathering shrimps and crabs at low tide). The implementation of the CSRP has adversely affected their livelihood, leading them to shift to less lucrative and mostly informal, irregular, temporary service-related work. Strategies employed were not only in terms of livelihood options but also in tapping social networks, pooling resources, cutting on consumption costs, and joining resistance movements.

Keywords

adaptive strategies; development; fisherfolk; reclamation project; urbanization

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