Fisheries Management Area Planning in the Philippines
Learn how a fisheries management plan was developed in the Philippines
EDF’s Philippine team is using FISHE (Framework for Integrated Stock and Habitat Evaluation) to formulate the fisheries management plan for priority stocks of Fisheries Management Area (FMA) 8 on the country’s southeastern border. This process is part of a national effort to establish functional FMAs across the country and shift towards a more scientific and participatory approach to fisheries management. Not only has FISHE provided specific steps and structures to inform this process, but it has also enabled multi-sectoral collaboration and community education and empowerment.
FISHE has guided all of our fisheries management initiatives in the Philippines, especially since science-based and participatory fisheries management is so new to the country. Specifically, it forms the scaffolding for our engagement with FMA 8 stakeholders and decision-makers.
Edwina Garchitorena: "I lead EDF’s Philippine team and have been in conservation for over two decades. I work closely with stakeholders to implement science-based fisheries management and build capacity/resilience among communities in the Philippines. Many of the fisheries we are involved in are small-scale, multispecies, and data-limited which is why FISHE has played an important role in guiding us through the process of planning and management/implementing the FMA concept introduced in 2019."
Miriam Amigo: "Currently, I lead the National Stock Assessment Program (NSAP) team for FMA 8 under the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. We are responsible for collecting and analyzing landings data which includes gathering input from fishers directly to validate our data. I am based in Tacloban City but have been involved with fisheries management in many regions across the country for the last 8 years. I got involved with EDF in March 2019, just a few months after the FMA concept was introduced nationally and we have been collaborating since then."
FISHE in ActionExpand All
Fisheries Management Area (FMA) 8 is located on the Philippine’s southeastern border facing the Pacific. It is a diverse multispecies and multigear archipelagic fishery where anchovies, rabbitfishes, blue swimming crabs, and parrotfishes are highly valued target species. Currently, the Philippines is in the process of rolling out a progressive national policy that subdivides the country’s waters into twelve fishery management areas, a first for the country. Because each FMA is responsible for and implementing measures to bring this policy to life, FISHE has played an important role in setting the foundation for this process. It has provided specific guidelines to draft locally adapted measures that are critically needed across the 7 provinces that surround the FMA 8.
Edwina: “FISHE has encouraged more participatory management of fishery resources as opposed to a top-down approach which does not always address regional needs. Through the goal setting process, we’ve been able to assess if policies have been successful at meeting fisher needs. It gives us a way to track progress- something that has been lacking previously. The concept of prioritization introduced within FISHE was also of interest to everyone because government prioritization is typically based on volume and economic value. One of the questions we always ask is, ‘what are the other characteristics of fisheries that make them a priority to fishers that may not be seen in your typical stock assessment?’ FISHE sheds light on other metrics like vulnerability of habitats and cultural value.”
Following the FISHE framework, EDF has worked closely with municipal fishers and local governments to capture community needs and goals. The team has held several goal setting workshops in municipalities within the FMA (FISHE step 2) as well as round table discussions to identify priorities (FISHE step 6) with stakeholders in different regions. This process involves determining tradeoffs and reaching consensus, ensuring that all stakeholders involved are represented and heard. In these discussions, fishers in particular are encouraged to share ecological, economic, and social goals. It is a collaborative process that requires planning and coordination, especially with 51 coastal municipalities bordering the FMA. EDF’s Philippine team collaborates with local nonprofit partners to engage communities, traveling from region to region. The information gathered from goal setting and prioritization meetings will be used to develop the FMA management plan.
Edwina: “FISHE has been very useful in bringing fishers and decision-makers to the table. We have spent the last two years going through the scientific steps of FISHE but it also provides a way to bring in stakeholder involvement very effectively. If you look at the FISHE process, each step has a stakeholder involvement piece. There has been a lack of science-based decision-making and FISHE has really highlighted a way to change that by making the process more specific. In the past, a lot of regional policies were developed from the top and shared with regions regardless of whether they were relevant or fitting for the stocks in the area. Using FISHE is an opportunity to turn that around, to create policy that is relevant, effective, and adapted to the place. It helps to shine a light on how to deal with multigear, multispecies fisheries. Following the steps within FISHE has encouraged collaboration and built connections between diverse stakeholders, which creates a path forward to build a plan and institutionalize the process by drafting regional ordinances. Through these discussions, we are also helping to establish and operationalize governance structures across the board.”
Miriam: “What makes FISHE so valuable is that it is participative and people learn from each other along the way. We are finding that by involving fishers in our work, their understanding of the dynamics between fishing practices, fish stocks, and habitats has improved. We noticed that it has increased their willingness to participate and share observations about stock trends. Incorporating local knowledge into our plans really empowers them to voice their concerns. Many of the tools also consider the component of climate change and its effects. This is so important because FMA 8, in particular, is frequently hit by intense tropical cyclones that damage fisheries and livelihoods in the region. This helps us build climate resilience in our communities.”
Although FMA 8 is still in the early stages of drafting a fisheries management plan using FISHE, EDF’s Philippine team has been planning this process over the last two years. The process has, for the first time, brought together multiple government agencies on a national and local level as well as local nonprofit partners, scientists, commercial and municipal fishers.
Next steps for the Philippine team will involve months of field work facilitating stakeholder meetings to reach consensus on harvest control rules to be implemented. After drafting a management plan for FMA 8 and implementing changes, the ultimate goal is to replicate this process in other FMAs across the country. We also hope that by providing these tools and building capacity over the coming months, we will be able to solidify governance structures to ensure that long-term management is operational and effective.
Many of the tools and concepts within FISHE are still new to us and we are still learning. But with the guidance of EDF we have been able to use them not only to gather data but also to engage and educate fishers. It is a very complex but beautiful process.
Advice from the User
Miriam: “My advice to others using FISHE is to involve as many stakeholders as possible across the different steps, especially fishers, to be able to get everyone's input on the situation. This way, the information you gather and the data you collect will be more accurate and comprehensive. When you ask fishers for their input directly you get their side of the story and this gives meaning to our analyses and recommendations."