Why the Philippines?

in revenue generated by fisheries1
of fish caught in the Philippines by nearshore fishers2
of fishers are small-scale (1.4 million)3
of Filipinos’ animal protein comes from fish4
of fish caught in-country are consumed by Filipinos5

The Philippines caps the Coral Triangle, named for its staggering number of coral reefs and abundant wildlife. Though 1,200 marine protected areas (approximately 25 percent of the global total) have been established, 90 percent are considered mere “paper parks” with little to no enforcement or management.6 Combined with the fact that the Philippines supports a quickly increasing population reliant on marine resources, the nation finds its nearshore fisheries significantly depleted.

Fishers now spend more time at sea for smaller yields. A small-scale fisher who used to catch more than 40 kilograms of fish per day can now expect to catch just three kilograms with the same amount of effort.7

However, local communities do have management authority over their coastal waters, presenting a unique opportunity to create a system of exclusive access areas combined with fish recovery zones as a means to sustainably manage fisheries.

Since 2009, Rare has partnered with more than 20 coastal municipalities to help their fisheries recover. This was achieved by building local capacity to strengthen fish recovery zones through better enforcement and monitoring activities — both critical components of the Fish Forever strategy.

Successes to date:

  • Across Rare’s first 12 projects in the Philippines, the abundance of coastal fish species increased by an average of 47 percent within fish recovery zones in two years.
  • All 12 sites increased community enforcement of their fish recovery zones, with most sites maintaining around-the-clock-monitoring.
  • Seven original partners have kept their Pride campaigns running with limited Rare support.
  • Eighty-six local organizations applied to be part of Rare’s second set of nearshore fishery recovery projects launched in 2012, demonstrating serious interest in the approach.
  • In 2013, Rare signed a memorandum of understanding with the Philippines Department of Environment and Natural Resources to help communities establish sustainable fishing practices in the Tañon Strait Protected Seascape.

“The Fish Forever strategy is not simply for livelihood and economic opportunity; it connects communities to future generations of Filipinos and generates great pride in marine biodiversity.”
-Neric Acosta, Philippines Presidential Adviser for Environmental Protection

In the Philippines, the Fish Forever partners are working to achieve the following results in the first five years of the program:

  • Reach 10 percent of coastal communities to establish exclusive access areas within their fisheries.
  • Improve the management and protection of 140 fish recovery zones.
  • Train 25 percent of coastal mayors or municipal delegates to build demand and political support for exclusive access areas and fish recovery zones.
  • Improve the livelihoods of up to 60,000 coastal fishers who are sustainably managing their fisheries through access to political capital, increased catch and improved social and community cohesion.
  • Increase fish biomass, abundance and coral reef cover inside fish recovery zones at project sites.


Show 7 footnotes

  1. FAO, “Fishery Country Profile: Philippines,” 2005.
  2. Len Garces, “Climate Change: Implications and Adaptation Measures in the Philippines Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector,” WorldFish Center, Philippine Country Office, 2011.
  3. Ibid.
  4. FAO Corporate Statistical Database (FAOSTAT), Food Supply Data.
  5. FAO, “Fishery and Aquaculture Country Profile: Philippines,” accessed February 2014.
  6. H. O. Arceo, P. M. Aliño, and R. O. M. Gonzales, “Where Are We Now with Marine Protected Areas?” in Reefs Through Time: Initiating the State of the Coasts Report, eds. S. Mamauag and R. O. M. Gonzales (Quezon City, Philippines: Coral Reef Information Network of the Philippines (PhilReefs), MPA Support Network (MSN), University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute, and Marine Environment and Resources Foundation, 2008), 145‐151.
  7. Stuart J. Green et al., “Philippine Fisheries in Crisis: A Framework for Management,” Cebu City, Philippines: Coastal Resource Management Project of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 2003.