Events & Media

Gains for Sustainable Fisheries in Philippines
Bren School and partners team up with local communities to establish rights-based management

By Lily Tsukayama

Two communities in the Philippines recently took a huge step in their journey toward managing their local fisheries in a sustainable way. Tinambac and Cantilan, on the islands of Luzon and Mindanao, respectively, became the first communities in the country to approve TURF+Reserve designs to manage their nearshore fisheries. The new approach is the result of a long-term effort by Fish Forever, a partnership involving the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Rare, and the UCSB Sustainable Fisheries Group (SFG), which was founded in 2006 by Bren School dean, Steve Gaines, and Bren professor Chris Costello. A TURF+Reserve establishes territorial use rights for fishing (TURF), granting exclusive fishing privilege to a community, plus a no-take reserve adjacent to the fishing area. This management approach empowers fishing communities to take responsibility for their local marine resources and provides the opportunity for them to sustainably manage their nearshore fisheries.

A fishermen in the Philippines mends his net

To take this step, the Fish Forever team worked closely with government officials, village leaders, fishermen and other community members. The Tinambac and Cantilan communities participated in hands-on workshops where they heard scientific presentations, shared their own knowledge of the fishing grounds, and discussed important elements of fisheries design. From these workshops, community members designed TURF+Reserve management plans, which were then passed by the local community councils. These plans are now awaiting final review and, if approved, will become law.

An article about the project on the EDF website describes the sometimes arduous process involved in establishing the new TURF+Reserve management system. Fish Forever pilot projects in the Philippines, Indonesia, Belize, Mozambique, and Brazil are intended to test a variety of rights-based approaches to sustainable fishery management. The goal of these projects is to identify a suite of techniques that can be shaped to best fit the needs of individual fishing communities around the world.