A CIRAD project involving the University of Stirling (UK), the Centre de Sociologie des Organisations (Sciences Po-CNRS, Paris) and the BFAR (Philippines), with the support of the French Embassy in Manila, has demonstrated the originality of an aquaculture system set up in the Pampanga region, in the Philippines. Tropical shrimp farming has been developing since the 1980s, in very old ponds that are large enough to provide food for the crustaceans naturally. Its specificity is acknowledged to lie in the sociotechnical networks that have developed between pond owners and the "mangangapas" (fishermen), who are known as "bare-handed fishermen" as they do not have enough money to buy nets to catch the fish and crustaceans they sell to make a living. The system that has developed in the Pampanga region is highly organized: the fishermen are allowed to recover the surpluses produced by the tiger prawn (Penaeus monodon) farming industry. This opportunity generates considerably more income for them than river fishing without nets, which is neither reliable nor profitable. Within coastal communities, where mangangapas make up as much as 80% of the population, this activity plays a major structural role as a means of existence for some, but also as a means of climbing the social ladder for others. In 1991, the eruption of Mount Pinatubo threatened the system. Locally, the catastrophe had a dramatic impact: silting-up of rivers and canals, lower water salinity, and falls in yields from ponds and in river catches. Since then, pond owners have been increasingly reluctant to grant access to their property as a result of falling years, and there are growing numbers of poor people in the region. This change could be reversed, notably by introducing quality labels, by playing on the social aspect of this type of aquaculture, which could give the poor a chance. It is also important to propose innovations to improve production in both rivers and ponds. This is the price to pay if the system is to be sustainable and serve as an example for other regions.

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