Exotic Aquatic Species Introduction in the Philippines for Aquaculture – A Threat to Biodiversity or A Boon to the Economy?

Arsenia G. Cagauan


An updated list of exotic aquatic species shows that there are 181 organisms (28 families) introduced in the Philippines since the 1900s; however, 40 organism have unknown records of introductions in the country. Based from the records of the year of introduction, the highest number of exotic aquatic introductions was in the 1970s, which was coincidentally the green revolution years of the Philippines. About 93% of these exotic species are fishes, 2.67% mollusks and the rest are crustaceans, frogs and turtles. These exotic organisms are primarily used as ornamental species (76%), as food (21%) and as biological control (2%). 

There are twelve organisms reported to be invasive with negative impact on native species and the environment. However, they are also useful as food or ornamental species. Nine species with no known record of establishment in the natural waters may potentially become invasive when loosed into water bodies, creating a negative impact on biodiversity and environment. While invasive exotic aquatic organisms are usually perceived from a negative point of view and the general management approach is to control or eradicate, these organisms may also be managed as food and ornamental species, which seem to be an appropriate approach in the Philippines. They can also be sources of livelihood and income. Exotic aquatic organisms in the Philippines have played a major role in aquaculture, one of the fastest food producing sectors. These experiences show that exotic species can be both a bane and boon to the country depending on the species and manner of introduction. For truly invasive species, measures to prevent their entry in the Philippines may be avoided by employing import risk analysis and the hazard analysis critical control point (HACCP) approach is suggested.

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