USAID Oceans Hands Over Sustainable Fisheries Management Plans to Indonesia and the Philippines for National Impact and Support to Broader Regional Conservation Initiatives

Just ahead of the close of its fourth programmatic year, USAID Oceans reached a critical milestone with the delivery of Sustainable Fisheries Management Plans (SFMPs) to its national fisheries agency partners in the program’s Philippines and Indonesia learning sites. The plans identify key management priorities and actions according to the ecological, human, and governance aspects of the learning sites’ fisheries. They also support and connect with national plans currently in implementation, as well as with the program-led Sub-Regional Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management (EAFM) Plan for the Sulu-Sulawesi Seas that was endorsed by the Coral Triangle Initiative for Coral Reefs, Fisheries, and Food Security’s Senior Officials Meeting in late 2018. With this “nested” approach, the SFMPs’ finalization is not just a programmatic milestone, but a regional one. The learning site plans, linked to local, national, and regional implementing bodies, represent building blocks to the first ever sub-regional fisheries management framework and illustrate an unprecedented collaborative approach to national resource management.

The learning site SFMPs were developed according to the principles and pillars of EAFM, which call for an expanded scope of fisheries management over that of conventional plans. The SFMPs were developed over a multi-year, collaborative process launched in 2016. After completing foundational research, including rapid appraisals of fisheries management systems, catch documentation and traceability gap analyses, and labor and gender research, the plans sought inputs from a network of contributors tapped through regional and national workshops and consultations. Following a two-year consultative process, USAID Oceans submitted the plans to national agencies in August of 2019 for implementation.

USAID Oceans is providing technical guidance for the SFMPs’ expected implementation in 2020. The plans will work in concert with the sites’ electronic catch documentation and traceability (eCDT) systems that have been developed to achieve data-driven, real-time fisheries management. Fisheries managers will be able to use eCDT data and custom-developed analytic tools created through program-issued grants to Yayasan Masyarakat dan Perikanan Indonesia and the Mindanao State University-Naawan Foundation for Science and Technology Development, Inc., which have been working since June 2019 to create analytic dashboards that transform big data obtained from seafood traceability systems into actionable, management-oriented resources.

Beyond the plans’ direct impacts on biodiversity conservation, partners have also strongly embraced the consultative approach used to develop them, advocating for new planning initiatives that follow in their path. For example, Dr. Norasma Dacho, Senior Assistant Director, Conservation and International Office of the Department of Fisheries Sabah, Malaysia, noted that the scaled approach to fisheries management will, “influence the future of fisheries management in the region, further strengthening the application of EAFM principles for future projects.”