Empowering Communities to Co-Manage their Fisheries

With coastal communities spread out across large areas, a traditional top-down approach to managing their fisheries rarely works. Rare’s Fish Forever program works to empower local communities to co-manage their local fisheries with their local government. At the core of this approach is a type of marine protected area called Managed Access with Reserves.

What is “Managed Access with Reserves?”

Managed Access with Reserves (MA+R) is a fisheries management system, which pairs sustainable use and protection of coastal waters to yield positive outcomes for people and nature. The system consists of two parts:

  • Managed Access. Areas of water mapped, legally established, and managed cooperatively between local government and local fishers, who enjoy preferential rights to fish in the area.
  • Reserves. Areas within or adjacent to the Managed Access area where fishing is off limits so that habitats and fish populations can regenerate.

Watch this video explaining Managed Access with Reserves, and how it helps people and nature.

Watch this video explaining how we network marine reserves together to maximize their impact.

What is the benefit of communities and local governments co-managing their fisheries?

Behavioral science tells us that when people or communities have ownership over their fisheries, they are more likely to manage them effectively. Participatory, inclusive, and equitable management of fisheries encourages positive fishing behaviors that safeguards vital ocean ecosystems.

Under a system of Managed Access with Reserves, the communities most dependent on the fishery have agency over how their resources are managed, and are the ones who benefit from that protection and management.

How does Rare support community co-management?

Diagram of managed access + reserves.

Rare-Supported Managed Access with Reserves


# of Managed Access with Reserve areas


Total square kilometers of managed access areas


Total hectarage of reserve areas

Stories of Success

Mozambique: Landmark regulation paves the way for empowered coastal communities
Indonesia: Making history
The Philippines: The fish are back