Compressor fishing practices among fisher-divers of lampirong (Placuna placenta) and their associated health risks in a coastal municipality in Panay, Philippines

Ma. Arve B. Baňez


Background: Compressor fishing is a strategy adopted by small-scale artisanal fishers of coastal communities in Panay, Western Visayas. The practice persists among subsistence lampirong fisher-divers whose livelihood depends on seasonal fishing. Placuna placenta known locally as lampirong is valued for its shells, which are made into shell craft like the famous capiz window. Related studies which examined traditional diving practices and compressor fishing identified risks factors such as the inappropriate dive training and use of unsuitable diving gears.

Objectives: The study aims to investigate the plight, and the health risks associated with common malpractices among lampirong fishers- divers who utilize the compressor fishing strategy.

Methods: In this ethnographic study, five (5) lampirong fisher-divers narrated the health risks and managing practices that they have adapted to survive compressor fishing. Primary data from field observation and interviews with the fisher-divers as well as secondary data from related studies were utilized for comparison and analysis. Considering the health risks compressor fishing poses to fisher- divers, I attempted a reflexive position drawing from the principle of ecological public health.

Results: The health risks of compressor fishing are known to fishers- divers, thus, they have developed managing practices which include the observance of certain clear- cut rules (the do's and don'ts) meant to ensure underwater survival. Improvised diving gears are worn but barely protect the lampirong fishers-divers from decompression illness or sickness. Related studies validated these symptoms such as nose bleed, dull pain in the ears, blood dripping from the ears, headache, and physical fatigue from prolonged dives. They rationalized the practice of lampirong compressor fishing as a means to bring food to the table for families in fishing communities.

Conclusion: Philippine law prohibits or regulates compressor fishing, thus, there is still a need for a policy or program addressing the health risks of compressor fishing.


compressor fishing; decompression illness (DCI) or decompression sickness (DCS); lampirong fisherdiver; health and well-being; ecological public health

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