How important are coral reefs to food security in the Philippines? Diving deeper than national aggregates and averages
How important are coral reefs for food security and to what extent does coral reef conservation contribute to the food security of the coastal communities in the Coral Triangle? Based on the national fish production and consumption data from the Philippines and some data from Indonesia, Clifton and Foale (2017)  argued that the pelagic fisheries are far more important than coral reef fisheries for the food security of the Philippines and Indonesia. While it is true that, in totality, populations in both the Philippines and Indonesia rely heavily on pelagic fisheries for animal protein, this commentary demonstrates that coral reef fisheries contribute substantially to the food and livelihood security of coastal communities, which make up the poorest and most food insecure sector of the economy. There is also significant growth potential in nearshore fisheries that can be captured by working to recover currently degraded coral reef ecosystems. Nonetheless, research and institutional reforms in all sources of fish protein (pelagic, demersal, and aquaculture) are urgently needed to improve not only food security but also the lives and livelihoods of coastal fishing households in the Coral Triangle.