Gleaning for edible seafood on shallow reef flats during low tides is an important form of subsistence fisheries in the Philippines. As yields from artisanal, gear-based fisheries continue to decline, coastal residents become increasingly dependent on gathering of invertebrates and seaweed to supplement family incomes and put food on the table. This study, however, shows that reef gleaning contributes little to household income because of the low prices their catch are sold at and since more than half of the catch is retained for household consumption. Despite this, results suggest that coastal residents do not consume enough seafood to meet their daily protein requirement, probably because many would rather sell their catch in order to buy rice for the household. Still, many gleaners report that what they earn from selling their catch is barely enough to buy a few kilos of rice each day; results indicate that family income falls below the national poverty and subsistence thresholds, evidence that Filipino small-scale fishers remain the poorest of the poor. On top of this, the study highlights that certain methods of gleaning are destructive and that overharvesting is fast depleting reef flat resources. Hence, the study calls for the formulation and implementation of sound management policies to save what is left of the invertebrate resources in reef flats as well as to sustainably support the food and income needs of marginal fishing communities in the country’s coastal areas.

Economics of Reef Gleaning in the Philippines: Impacts on the Coastal Environment, Household Economy and Nutrition