ECOFISH Aims to Protect Key Marine Areas in the PhilippinesNewsroom
Key marine communities across the archipelago are expected to benefit from the Ecosystems Improved for Sustainable Fisheries (ECOFISH) project.
ECOFISH is a 5-year technical assistance project designed to protect and manage eight marine key biodiversity areas including the Calamianes Group of Islands in Palawan, Lingayen Gulf in Pangasinan, Ticao Pass-Lagonoy Gulf-San Bernardino Strait in Bicol and Samar, Danajon Double Barrier Reef in Bohol and Leyte, Southern Negros Occidental, Surigao provinces, the Sulu Archipelago, and the Verde Island Passage in Batangas and Mindoro area.
The Government of the Philippines initiated the plan last year through the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR).
The government is aiming to improve the management of marine and coastal resources found in these key areas. The project also seeks to protect these areas from threats such as overfishing and other environmental threats.
“Excessive fishing has resulted in the decrease in average sizes of fishes, shifts in species composition, and steep decline in abundance of valuable species. If this continues, fish production may not only decrease but it may also collapse,” BFAR Director Asis G. Perez said.
According to the BFAR, the country currently ranks 8th in total fisheries production globally. Recent national stock assessment report, however, stated that two-thirds of the 12 major fishing bays in the country are overfished and there are indications that the catch rates of reef fisheries as among the lowest in the world, partly due to the use of dynamite and cyanide in fishing, the agency said.
Under ECOFISH, the BFAR hopes to reverse the trend by establishing and implementing technical training programs, supporting local governments in improving management of municipal marine waters, and facilitating collaboration between governments, institutions, and private sector partners.
The project seeks to enhance intermunicipal government alliances through a national training program for local and national government personnel involved in fisheries.
In the long term, the project also hopes to increase fish population, identify opportunities for fishing communities to gain employment and improve their livelihood, and generate public-private sector partnership to support sustainable fisheries management.
The government has partnered with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for the ECOFISH project.
“ECOFISH aims to conserve biological diversity, enhance ecosystem productivity, and restore profitability of fisheries using ecosystem-based approaches to create broader social, economic and environmental impacts,” USAID Environment Chief Rolf Anderson said.
Courtesy of BFAR and USAID