South and south-east Asian coastal fisheries: their status and directions for improved management: conference synopsis and recommendations

As a step to address the problems of coastal fisheries in Asia, the WorldFish Center joined forces with fisheries agencies from eight developing Asian countries (Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, The Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam) and the Asian Development Bank, to implement a project entitled “Sustainable Management of Coastal Fish Stocks in Asia” (also known as the “TrawlBase” project). The project was implemented between 1998 and 2001. The main achievements of this partnership were: (a) Development of a database called “Fisheries Resource Information System and Tools” (FiRST), which contains trawl research survey data and socioeconomic information for selected fisheries, and facilitates its analysis; (b) Evaluation of the extent of resource decline and over-fishing, both biological and economic, in the region; (c) Identification of the measures needed to manage coastal fisheries in the participating countries, resulting in draft strategies and action plans; and (d) Strengthening of national capacity in coastal fisheries assessment, planning and management. The analyses show an alarming decline in coastal fishery resources throughout the region, with biomasses down to 5 - 30% of levels prior to the expansion of fishing. The relative abundance of the larger, more valuable fish has decreased sharply and that there has been a proportionate increase in smaller, less valuable species. The socioeconomic characteristics of the coastal fisheries, including fleet dynamics and cost efficiency has also been documented. These results provide a clear picture of the extent of stock rehabilitation and management required to restore maximum economic value to the fisheries of the region. The project has contributed to increasing awareness of key issues and opportunities in coastal fisheries management at the national and regional levels and illustrated the benefits of collaborative efforts in addressing issues of regional concern. It has also highlighted the need and urgency for concerted action at various levels of the institutional hierarchy to successfully resolve fisheries issues. There is a need to foster regional/national collaboration and cooperation among scientists and institutions involved in assessment and management of coastal fisheries. These gains provide the base (and momentum!) for the effective follow-up actions by the countries and international agencies to sustain the benefits derived from coastal fisheries by developing Asian countries. The directions for follow-up action towards improving the management of coastal fisheries resources presented in this paper were based on the results of a multisec-toral consultation conducted in the region. The main goal of fisheries management suggested is the sustainable utilization of coastal fishery resources in South and Southeast Asia, defined with environmental, socioeconomic and institutional objectives. Eight interventions to achieve these objectives are presented. These are grouped into interventions for implementation by the national fisheries institutions in the respective countries and regional support activities. We also urge that the countries must commit to continuous, long-term capacity building and institu-tional strengthening.


Silvestre, G., Garces, L.R., Stobutzki, I., Ahmed, M., Valmonte-Santos, R.A., Luna, C.Z., Zhou, W. (2003)
Assessment, management and future directions for coastal fisheries in Asian countries. WorldFish Center conference proceedings; 67