Home > CGIAR Research Programs > Ongoing Projects > Moving Towards an Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management Approach

Moving Towards an Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management Approach

Strengthening Governance and Sustainability of Small-Scale Fisheries Management in the Philippines: An Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management Approach
Project leader
Maripaz L. Perez
1 Jan 2009
30 Sep 2011

Quirino Project in Philippines
Biomass levels of coastal fish stocks in parts of the Philippines are now only 10-30% of the levels of the late 1940’s. In addition, 25-30% of total catch is lost due to improper handling, inadequate storage and inefficient marketing. This depletion in biomass has been caused by the lack of effective fishing controls, rapid increase in coastal population, insufficient government support for sustainable fisheries resources management programs, deteriorating marine habitats and worsening marine pollution.
In 2009, the contribution to the country’s total fish production from fisheries and aquaculture was about 5.08 million MT (BFAR 2009). Aquaculture was responsible for 49% of this amount, whereas commercial and municipal capture fisheries contributed approximately 25% and 26%, respectively.  Nonetheless, capture fisheries have continued to experience a steady decline in recent years, leading to an alarming shortfall in supplies of aquatic products.

Community-based fisheries management

Community-based fisheries management has been widely adopted in the Philippines to help address this ever-increasing shortfall. This management approach focuses on defined marine areas close to their respective communities, and has been utilized as an implementation strategy by a number of externally funded projects over the past 20 years.
Whilst good progress has been made, there is a need to take a more holistic view of the fisheries industry so as to take into account the marine ecosystem.

Ecosystem-based fisheries management

Ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM) is defined as “managing fisheries in a manner that addresses multiple needs and desires of society, without jeopardizing options for future generations, to benefit from the full range of goods and services provided by marine ecosystems” (FAO 2003). Within the context of the Philippines, the bays and gulfs are defined as being discrete marine ecosystems.
Within the milieu of EBFM, The WorldFish Center, with funding support from DA-BAR, initiated the project on ‘Strengthening Governance and Sustainability of Small-Scale Fisheries Management in the Philippines: An Ecosystem-based Fisheries Management Approach’. The project seeks to carry out the goals evident in its title by identifying current best practices and emulating them throughout the four target areas, leading to more resilient coastal communities.
Attention will also be given to the need to build capacity in both community and local government units, so they can manage small-scale fisheries in a more sustainable manner.
To successfully transition from a community-based approach to an eco-system based approach, an understanding of how institutional arrangements can impact coordination, cooperation and contribution is fundamental. As such, the project has adopted the Rapid Appraisal of Fisheries Management Systems (RAFMS) approach to undertake this institutional analysis.
Upon completion of the analysis, the project will seek to evaluate, develop and test ecosystem-based management options through participatory approaches in selected coastal fishing areas in the Philippines.
Whilst there are hurdles to be negotiated such as lack of budget, lack of capacity within local government units and poor enforcement, the outcome of multiple ecosystems sustaining their capacity into the future is within reach.