Press Release

Report on Rare’s Fish Forever Coastal Fisheries Program Finds Promising Results for Marine Life, Coastal Livelihoods

August 1, 2018

(Arlington, VA) A new report released by international conservation organization, Rare, on its coastal fisheries program has found encouraging signs for small-scale fisheries and the communities that depend on them. The report, “Stemming the Tide of Coastal Overfishing: Fish Forever Program Results 2012-2017,” examined five years’ worth of data from more than 250 communities in three countries—Brazil, Indonesia and the Philippines—and found encouraging signs including:

  • Fish recovering both inside and outside of no-take reserves;
  • Community members saying social resilience, pride and livelihoods are improving;
  • Community leaders feeling more empowered through the establishment of legal and functional management bodies;
  • Nearly 600,000 hectares of coastal waters under managed access, with 27,000 hectares secured in fully protected reserves;
  • Strengthened policies and governance providing a path to scaling the solutions.

Rare’s Fish Forever program is designed to revitalize coastal marine habitats by empowering communities with control over their fisheries, inspiring them to manage local waters more sustainably, and providing a successful community-focused model for nations and the world. The review focused on identifying biological, social and policy outcomes as a result of Rare’s work with local communities. The report synthesized data from the first 41 Fish Forever program sites, including 2,400 in-water surveys of coral reefs, 15,000 individual and household surveys, and the landing record from nearly 56,000 fishing trips. Seventy Rare staff and over 550 staff from 80 partner organizations contributed to the report.

“Coastal overfishing is the greatest near-term threat facing our oceans. With hundreds of millions of people depending on small-scale fisheries for jobs, food and livelihoods, ignoring coastal overfishing could turn an environmental challenge into a humanitarian crisis,” said Brett Jenks, President and CEO of Rare. “That is why we are so excited by what we saw in this report. Fish Forever is clearly working. The biological comeback is promising and the community behavior change is inspiring. Rare will build on these successes, learn what we can do better and catalyze global momentum to stop coastal overfishing and revitalize coastal communities.”

“We are very encouraged by what the data show, and the promise of our approach for revitalizing coastal waters and coastal communities around the world,” said Dr. Steve Box, Senior Vice President of Fish Forever. “In short, the fish are swimming, communities are feeling more hopeful about their future, and there is a clear pathway for scaling this solution and expanding its impact globally.”

Launched in 2012, the Fish Forever approach is centered on a “managed access plus reserves,” where local fishers receive exclusive access to local waters. A no-take reserve is established within the managed access area where no fishing is allowed so fish and other marine life can recover. Rare works with local partners to build local support for the approach through Pride campaigns, which use insights from behavioral science and tactics from social marketing to promote the adoption of sustainable fishing practices.

Fish Forever has been supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies; Bobolink Foundation; the David and Lucile Packard Foundation; Global Environment Facility; The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment; International Climate Initiative supported by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety; The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; The Lundin Foundation; Rare’s Board of Trustees; The Robert W. Wilson Charitable Trust; Scotty Searle; United States Agency for International Development; The Waitt Foundation and anonymous individual donors.