Considered the center of global coral ecosystem biodiversity, the Philippines’ waters contain almost ten percent of the world’s coral reefs (93% of which exists in its territorial seas, 0-12 nautical miles from shore), large swaths of mangrove forests and more Marine Protected Areas than any other country.
The Philippines’ coastal waters are a life-giving and vital natural resource for the 1.9 million registered small-scale fishers and their families who rely on these waters to provide income and food. 85% of Filipino fishers are coastal, small-scale fishers, and catch nearly half of the Philippines’ fish. Further, the Philippines’ fisheries sector generates upwards of $3.3 billion/year; and the majority of the country’s population of 107 million live in coastal cities and municipalities.
Despite the importance of the Philippines coastal fishing sector, and government support for fishers’ preferential access to coastal waters, the country’s small-scale fishers are among the poorest and most marginalized people in the country. The locals’ reliance on fish-based protein has driven widespread and chronic local overfishing and fish stock decline. Small-scale fishers’ average catch per day has decreased steadily for decades; they now spend more time at sea, going further and further from home, for smaller yields. Despite efforts to regulate the fishing industry, open access to marine resources has remained the norm, leading to unsustainable levels of fishing in coastal waters.
Fish Forever in the Philippines works with fishing villages and municipal governments to build and strengthen community-based coastal fisheries management of the Philippines’ municipal waters.
The program works to:
Establish managed access areas that provide fishing communities clear rights to fish in certain areas
Create 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
Giving exclusive rights to fishers carries with it an obligation to fish in a responsible manner. This is the only way they can enjoy the privilege of fishing in our municipality, and ensure that we will have abundant supply of marine resources for the current and future generations.”
Mayor Mary Jean Nicopior-Te, Municipality of Libertad, Antique
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 Philippines include national government ministries (Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Agriculture–Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Philippines’ Climate Change Commission, Department of Finance–Bureau of Local Government Finance); provincial and municipal governments (in Cebu, Negros Oriental, and Negros Occidental); multilateral development agencies (UNDP, GEF); national and state universities (the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute–Marine Environment Resources Foundation); and other civil society groups.