Small pelagic fish landings in the Philippines presently amount to about 500,000 t/yr. Catches are dominated principally by roundscads (Decapterus spp.), sardines (Sardinella spp.), anchovies (Stolephorus spp.) and mackerels (Rastrelliger spp.). In the commercial fishery virtually the entire catch is taken by purse seiners, basnigs, trawlers, ring netters and muro-ami. The annual commercial catch of small pelagic fishes has remained static since 1971. Nominal fishing effort (i.e., in terms of the numbers of principal commercial fishing vessels) has continued to increase, however. All available evidence suggest that small pelagic fishes in the Philippines are very heavily exploited or overfished. These results are discussed in relation to the problems of estimating fishing effort in the small pelagicfisheries.