The Philippines ranked 11th among the top fish producing countries in 2003 with the production of 2.63 million tonnes of fish, crustaceans, molluscs and aqua plants. As an archipelagic state with over 2.2 million km of highly productive seas, the Philippines has vast fishery resources, and the most biodiverse marine area in the world. However all the country's main fish species and marine organisms are showing signs of overfishing.
The main species fished are small pelagics, tuna and other large pelagic fish, demersal fish and invertebrates. The tuna fisheries became the largest and most valuable fisheries in the Philippines in the 1970s, and the country became the number one producer of tuna in southeast Asia in the 1980s. However, as the catch began to decline, Filipino fishing companies began fishing in international waters.
The state of demersal stocks in Filipino waters is a real cause for concern. The main reason is over-capacity in the fishing fleet but, although concerns were raised as early as the 1960s, a lack of control has meant that many species have been virtually eliminated. The deep-sea fisheries resources are in many case uncharted and unknown and are relatively unexploited; however, the one deep sea fishery that has been exploited, the dogfish shark fishery, has seen the collapse of the species, so there is a clear need for proper protection and management of these areas.
The authorities have made real efforts to crack down on illegal fishing by both Filipino fishers and foreign fishers (mainly Chinese), at the national and regional levels. Illegal fishing in the Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park has been highlighted by global conservation groups during 2007.
Problems faced by the authorities include persistent cyanide fishing, corruption by local officials, and links to serious crime, which have resulted in a number of murders of those enforcing the laws. However, some regions have seen dramatic falls in illegal fishing activities as a result of tighter controls.