Effective fisheries management has always been a challenge in the complex multi-species, multi-gear fisheries of the Asia-Pacific region. Traditional stock-based approaches have largely been ineffective, with management measures often not taking important aspects of the fisheries into account. As many of the region’s coastal fisheries have declined, the need for more effective and equitable management is increasingly evident.

An Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management (EAFM) shifts away from the single-species fisheries management approach of the past and towards an approach that seeks to balance environmental and socioeconomic concerns through improved fisheries governance. While a traceability system can be successful in tracking marine resources, it does not necessarily promote sustainability and biodiversity unless data is being actively used for management purposes.

What is USAID Oceans’ Approach?

EAFM develops realistic, equitable, and sustainable management plans that pursue sustainability by balancing ecological and human well-being through good governance. EAFM considers the relationship between fishing activities and the ecosystem as a whole, and as such includes the social and economic implications, as well as management requirements. EAFM also addresses non-target species, endangered species, minimizing waste and pollution, biodiversity, and welfare of coastal states involved, including the interests of artisanal or small-scale fisheries and subsistence fishers.

Improved Fisheries Management through Sustainable Fisheries Management Plans. USAID Oceans is focused on advancing and strengthening EAFM in the ASEAN and CTI-CFF regions, particularly in countries bordering the Sulu-Sulawesi Seas as the foundation for all its efforts. The program aims for the adoption of an EAFM that defines principles for growth, control and maintenance of fisheries within an enabling framework that improves the health, productivity, and resilience of the whole ecosystem. USAID Oceans supports the development and implementation of Sustainable Fisheries Management Plans (SFMP) that include the use of the Catch Documentation and Traceability System, and larger Fisheries Information System, for monitoring fisheries, labor practices, and gender and to make decisions the improve sustainability of the fisheries and safety of the workers.

Capacity Building. In partnership with national institutions, the USAID Oceans team trains local partners and stakeholders in site-based EAFM capacity and strengthened local fisheries governance. USAID Oceans’ trainings leverage previous regional and national EAFM capacity building investments made in the region, including the expertise and experience of existing USAID bilateral projects in Indonesia and the Philippines, such as USAID Sustainable Ecosystems Advanced (SEA) and Ecosystems Improved for Sustainable Harvests (ECOFISH), to harmonize EAFM efforts in the learning sites.