Fish, Trade and Food Security: Moving beyond ‘Availability’ Discourse in Marine Conservation
The goal of food security increasingly serves as an objective and justification for marine conservation in the global south. In the marine conservation literature this potential link is seldom based upon detailed analysis of the socioeconomic pathways between fish and food security, is often based on limited assumptions about increasing the availability of fish stocks, and downplays the role of trade. Yet, the relationship between fish and food security is multi-faceted and complex, with various local contextual factors that mediate between fish and food security. We use data from interviews and food security assessment methods to examine the relationship between fish and food security among fishing households in San Vicente, Palawan province, Philippines. We highlight the local role of income and trade, emphasising the sale of fish to purchase food not easily accessible for fishers, particularly staples. In particular, we show that because rice is the primary staple of food security for these households, fish must be traded with the intent of buying rice. Trade is therefore central to household food security. We argue that the relationship between fish and food security must be considered in greater depth if marine conservation is to engage with food security as an objective.