The Solution

The Fish Forever partners are addressing overfishing in countries across the globe by empowering thousands of the world’s poorest, most marginalized coastal communities to steward their own sustainable and productive fisheries. Restoration of small-scale fisheries can provide a reliable source of protein, improve livelihoods, protect marine habitat and improve coastal climate resilience for those most in need.

This innovative approach is designed to work across different cultures, geographies and political systems around the world, to the benefit of millions of people and building an international movement to reform nearshore fisheries.

Each Fish Forever project will incorporate a suite of proven solutions:

Fish Forever: The Elements of Success

Exclusive Access Privileges

Exclusive access privileges. Communities are granted exclusive access privileges to local fishing areas based on legal or traditional tenure systems (also called territorial user rights in fisheries, or TURFs). Exclusive access provides incentives for fishers to change practices and reap the benefits of being responsible guardians of their natural resources.

Fish Recovery Zone

Fish recovery zones. Protected areas established inside or near exclusive access areas can allow fish and coastal habitats to flourish in the absence of human pressures. As populations rebound, fish then spillover into surrounding fishing areas. Fish recovery zones are sometimes called marine reserves, marine-protected areas or no-take zones.

Monitoring and Evaluation

Monitoring and evaluation. Building the capacity to study biological impacts and fishery recovery empowers communities to evaluate the results of their efforts and flexibly manage their fishery in the face of new challenges or threats. This creates positive reinforcement by providing communities with tangible evidence that sustainable management of their fishery is working and further engenders pride in accomplishments. Documented increases in fish stocks prompt replication requests from nearby sites.

Local Enforcement System

Local enforcement systems. Community surveillance and enforcement of the exclusive access area and fish recovery zones ensure that fishers and their families benefit from a well-managed fishery. Increasing enforcement capacity helps reinforce the sense of local ownership and pride, which, in turn, helps in building social pressure to comply with fishing rules.

Community Support

Community support. Training local leaders using Rare’s signature Pride methodology builds community mobilization and capacity to adopt and adapt Fish Forever. This proven approach accelerates community support and increases the sustainability of Fish Forever by creating local ownership and increasing the capacity to implement and manage fisheries over the long term. Pride has been successfully replicated across multiple geographies and cultures. A study published in Nature shows that strong local leadership and social cohesion are critical factors in successful community-managed fisheries.1

Fishery Management

Fishery management. Using information specific to their fisheries, local fishery managers and leaders will be able to formulate regulations appropriate to adaptively manage their fisheries for long-term sustainability.

Links to Market

Links to markets. An exclusive access system empowers coastal fishers to develop cooperatives, networks and the skills essential to capturing additional value from their catch. Examples range from joint investments in technology and infrastructure — such as refrigeration and processing equipment; coordination to fish more efficiently and harvest higher quality products; and creating or tapping into more lucrative markets.

Fisheries Policy

Fisheries policy. Partners will work to ensure that Fish Forever principles are incorporated in the official coastal management philosophies of national, provincial and local governments, and integrated into relevant economic development plans.



Implementing the Fish Forever suite of solutions on the ground is based on a simple approach:

exclusive access

Provide local fishers with exclusive access to a fishing area.

Protect Fish Stocks

Build capacity to set up and manage fish recovery zones — the protected areas where fish can reproduce unharmed away from human pressures.

Communities enjoy the "spillover"

Fish then “spill over” into the surrounding area. The result is more fish in the ocean and more fish for the community, creating a strong incentive for fishers to become better stewards of their marine resources.

Known by different terms, depending on local cultures and laws, this system can be referred to as a TURF-reserve (territorial user rights in fisheries coupled with reserves). This idea of assigning fishing rights or exclusive management privileges to individuals or a collective has existed for centuries.

Science and experience has demonstrated the effectiveness of this approach. For example, studies of no-take areas (referenced above as fish recovery zones) have shown that they boost fish stocks by an average of 446 percent inside the protected area2 and 207 percent adjoining it.3 Healthy fisheries and coastal habitats provide additional benefits by enhancing coastal resilience and resistance to climate stressors while supporting the communities’ abilities to adapt to changing conditions.

The combination of fisher empowerment, capacity building and community mobilization that make up the full suite of solutions at each project site will help ensure that coastal fisheries are ecologically and economically sustainable for generations to come, building the momentum for wide-scale adoption across the globe.


Show 3 footnotes

  1. Nicolás Gutiérrez et al., “Leadership, Social Capital and Incentives Promote Successful Fisheries,” Nature 470 (2010): 386-389, doi:10.1038/nature09689.
  2. S. Lester et al., “Biological Effects Within No-Take Zone Marine Reserves: A Global Synthesis,” Marine Ecology Progress Series, vol. 284 (2009): 22-46.
  3. B. Worm et al., “Impacts of Biodiversity Loss on Ocean Ecosystem Services,” Science 314 (2006), 787.
Fish Forever Goals

Over the next 10 years Fish Forever will demonstrate productive, sustainable and profitable nearshore fisheries in the developing tropics. This includes:

  • 20% of relevant sites in each of the five Fish Forever countries are in the process of adopting systems that include exclusive access areas combined with fish recovery zones.
  • On average, 20% of those exclusive access areas will be fully protected by fish recovery zones.

Achieving these goals will lead Fish Forever to a tipping point that will catalyze widespread adoption.