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Philippine Tuna Catchers Salary Can Vary Widely

The pay scale in the Philippine tuna industry may not appear very attractive to an outsider, but it’s what some local families depend on for their livelihood. Salaries and social conditions, and job security may vary between those employed by the larger tuna fishing companies and the medium sized ones.
The top salary on board is paid to the piyado, or the master fisherman who is also the ship skipper of the tuna catcher vessel, can gross from a low of PHP 700,000 (USD 17,000) to a high of PHP 2.4 million (USD 59,000) annually on a good production year, and depending on the size of his boat.  He’s responsible for recruiting his own fishing crew, who are usually relatives and close friends.
From there, the salaries decrease according to pecking order and a large portion of the wages are never seen due to deductions for cash advances.
In the Philippines the minimum monthly wage is PHP 12,570 (USD 314) or USD 3,768 a year.
The chief engineer is paid half the piyado’s rate and an experienced deckhand can gross up to PHP 300,000 (USD 7,000) annually.
The pay rates and incentive structures are not standardized in the Philippines, where the industry norm is based on a complicated sharing system and where company owners often determine production costs.
Some of the country’s bigger tuna fishing companies, who are operating in Palau, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia, pay their workers on a monthly basis, meet labor standards, and provide benefits such as health care and social assistance.              
Medium-sized fishing companies, however, typically do not offer their crews the same security. These fishermen work on a percentage basis and are often paid quarterly. They are also not entitled to overtime pay and night premiums.

Last December, a powerful typhoon struck the Philippines and left 352 tuna fishermen unaccounted for. Most of them were employed by medium-sized purse seine operators.