Sulu-Celebes Sea Fishing Project Readies for ReplicationCatch of the Week
The Sulu and Sulawesi Seas, linking the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia, are important marine biogeographic areas that provide both commercial and ecological benefits.
Now, a 15-year project that was originally aimed as a test bed to implement biodiversity conservation and sustainable development is currently being evaluated for scaling up and replication in other coastal areas in the Southeast Asian region, particularly within the coastal triangle.
The Sulu-Celebes Sea Sustainable Fisheries Management Project (SCS-SFMP) was among the projects reviewed during a recently concluded forum called the “Global Environment Facility (GEF) International Water Regional Workshop for Asia and the Pacific on Transforming Good Practices from Demonstration Projects into Scaled-Up Investments and Financing in Integrated Water Resources and Coastal Management.”
It is currently being implemented in Zamboanga and is maintained by a number of partners from Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia.
According to Romeo Trono, regional project director manager of the SCS-SFMP, they have recently held study tours with partners from Indonesia looking to replicate the project in their own coastal areas.
“The project was designed so it can be scaled and replicated. When it was first conducted it had the whole Coral Triangle (in Southeast Asia) region in mind because we knew that if it worked here, we could have it done in other coastal locations,” Trono said.
The SCS-SFMP was initiated as a means to find sustainable fishing practices that also protected coral marine ecosystems. The Sulu-Celebes (or Sulawesi) area was chosen because of its proximity to three countries that also shared fishing grounds. This area, generally called the Sulu-Sulawesi Marine Ecoregion, is among the identified critical large marine ecosystems that need to be protected.
Trono said that one of the project’s major successes was an agreement between the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and a major sardine canning manufacturer to have seasonal, three-month closures of the fishing grounds where they catch fish. This will enable the fish stocks to recover, which also benefits the fishing companies as they are able to catch fully-grown fish.
“This was the first of its kind in terms of a partnership between us, a government institution, and the private sector in the fishing industry. Not only did we improve the fishing industry, we’ve also been able to protect the local marine stock from overfishing,” Trono said.
Trono noted that these activities are important steps in ensuring food security from the sea while protecting marine ecosystems.