What is at issue:
The Philippines is an archipelagic country that lies in the heart of the most biologically diverse region on earth for coastal biodiversity. The rich marine life has consistently made the Philippines among the twelve top fish producing countries in the world. The country has traditionally relied on fish as food and fishing as a rural activity. As a developing nation, it is very dependent on its fisheries resources for food security and other economic services.
In the Philippines, the critical role of the stakeholders in achieving sustainable use of coastal and marine resources is recognized in the institutionalization of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Councils or FARMCs.
FARMCs emphasize empowerment of the major stakeholders in the coastal community, particularly the fisherfolk, and give them opportunities for meaningful participation in fisheries management. The fishers are no longer distant beneficiaries of development initiatives but they become active partners or co-managers, through the FARMCs.
Incorporating comanagement issues in fisheries seeks to make integrated coastal zone management more effective. This makes an increasing use of local fishery knowledge and participatory decision-making with a strong emphasis on the sustainable use of the coastal resources. The FARMC also seeks to put in place policy reform measures and create a policy environment conducive to the sustainable management and development of the coastal zone.
Our project, little as it may seem in the overall national coverage because of the selected areas we focused on, it has contributed in the national program.
The project aimed to build capacities of the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Councils (FARMCs) as dynamic and effective partners of local government units for integrated coastal zone management. Activities were focused on the critical role of the fisherfolk in achieving sustainable use of coastal and marine resources as members of the FARMC. The project supports the national program for FARMCs of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).
What's happening now:
The project was completed in 2011.
What we have achieved:
The first and second phase focused on the formation of core groups of the FARMC (core group building), the collection of data to characterize the economic and ecological situation, the training of members (eg in marine ecology, fisheries biology, business basics, disaster management) and the development of management plans in the ten model communities. In addition, small microprojects have been planned and implemented that address specific concerns (establishment of protected areas, afforestation of mangroves, promotion of ecotourism initiatives, etc.).
Overall, a variety of measures were carried out:
- Building a strong self-organization for co-management and training the FARMC members
- Enlargment of the FARMC database to a management information system
- Expansion of the Fish Catch Monitoring and Database System NEMO
- Small projects (SPOT) on marine protected area management
- Adaptation to climate change
- Implementation of Fisheries Law: Assistance of regular law enforcement
- Integrated Coastal Zone Management for FARMCs
- Exchange of experience through mutual visits
- Information and education campaign
- Public relation
- Expansion and formation of alliances
- Nationwide implementation
As a result, during the first two phases of the project the foundations for local participatory coastal management have been laid. In ten model communities the fisherfolk have been enabled to fulfill their role in the sustainable management of local coastal waters, as assigned by the Philippine legal system. The second phase of the project was limited to one year due to the project's organizational restructuring and was used in addition to continue training programs and to evaluate the work done so far.
Special attention was paid to raising awareness of the needs of the marine environment and to improve the mutual understanding of different resource users. The project mobilized the administrations of coastal communities to actively participate in measures to conserve marine resources and to protect biodiversity as well as to involve the various user groups in decision-making processes. It supported the economic recovery of the municipalities through measures to develop a sustainable fisheries and it increased the sense of responsibility of marine resource users for the protection and sustainable use of marine resources. Through its strategies and educational activities to promote social skills and to participate in coastal zone management the project provides examples of sustainable development also beyond the project area.
The fisheries management tools implemented and tested during the project have proven to be particularly effective. The development of concept and software for a database system to monitore the fisheries, gathering experiences in using the instrument in practice and its adaptation and perfecting at the three main project sites, has driven the Bureau for Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) as the competent authority in this sector to adopt the approach in a national program and a nationwide implementation which has already started. Also included in the state program has been the FARMC Leadership Training Concept developed in the project, the so-called Core Group Building, which promotes the expertise of senior members of these bodies in their role in participatory coastal region management. The BFAR supports these initiatives and has conducted national trainings for the FARMC Coordinators, now fully funded by the Authority.