Ecosystems Improved for Sustainable Fisheries (ECOFISH) ProjectPrograms & Projects
The Government of the Philippines has partnered with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for the Ecosystems Improved for Sustainable Fisheries (ECOFISH) project, launched on 17 October 2012 in Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.