Coastal fisheries are central to the Pacific way of life. Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) are two countries in the Pacific’s Ocean’s Micronesia region—a biodiversity hotspot that makes up nearly 5 percent of the ocean and hosts an incredible diversity of nature, cultures and livelihoods.
Community-based small-scale fisheries and fishing in Palau and FSM form a crucial part of each country’s economy, food security, and cultural traditions. Palau, an archipelago of over 300 islands, boasts the Micronesia region’s highest levels of marine and terrestrial biodiversity; it’s also in the northeastern margin of what’s known as “the Coral Triangle.” FSM covers over 2.5 million km2 of ocean, including 93,000 km2 of coastal waters. People in both countries rely heavily on their islands’ natural resources, which mostly come from the ocean.
Climate change and overfishing jeopardize coastal fishers’ livelihoods and the future of communities across the Micronesia region. As two Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Palau and FSM face unique social, economic, and environmental vulnerabilities. For example, they are particularly vulnerable to biodiversity loss and climate change.
Small-scale and traditional fisheries often suffer from insufficient governance and management. Further, a lack of accurate fisheries data presents an ongoing barrier to effective marine management. Managing these fisheries must focus on local community-level action while also building effective management and governance across local, state, national, and regional scales.
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Fish Forever in Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia works with fishing communities and local governments to build and strengthen coastal fisheries management.
The program works to:
Establish and enhance local managed access areas that provide fishing communities clear rights to fish in certain areas
Create or strengthen networks of fully protected and community-led no-take marine reserves to replenish and sustain fish populations and protect critical habitat
Build community engagement and effective management bodies to support local decision-making
Enable fishers to adopt more sustainable and better-regulated fishing behaviors (e.g., become a registered fisher; record fish catch; respect fishing regulations; and participate in fisheries management)
Collect, disseminate and help fishing communities use data for decision-making
Advance coastal fishing communities’ inclusion in financial and market opportunities to increase household resilience
Mobilize public and private investment in coastal fisheries and marine natural resources
Enact policy to promote and sustain a community-based management approach
Fish Forever has developed an extensive global partnership network of over 100 organizations and institutions to make change happen. Rare focuses on building the capacities of our implementing partners to sustain this change long after Rare’s involvement ends. Rare partners in the Pacific Islands include national government ministries (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Environment (MAFE), The Palau National Marine Sanctuary); state governments; fishers and fisher associations (Palau Sports Fishing Association, Ngerubesang Men’s Club, and Traditional groups); and civil society organizations (Micronesia Conservation Trust, Ebiil Society, Friends of the Marine Sanctuary, Protected Area Network, Palau International Coral Reef Center, the Conservation Society of Pohnpei, and other local and international NGOs).