Sustainability plan to help Filipino fish and fishermen

Ecosystems and communities dependent on fishing should both benefit from a $33.8m project aiming to make the management of the Philippines coastal resources more sustainable.

The money, provided through a loan from the Asian Development Bank, will be used to develop a “holistic” resource management strategy in six key biodiversity areas and strengthen the local government agencies that are to implement it.

Some of the funds will also be used to support coastal communities affected by improving social services and creating jobs in environmentally-friendly industry.

The Philippines’ rich biodiversity and fish stock, both of “national and global importance,” are threatened by overfishing, destructive fishing practices and deforestation of coastal areas, the ADB said.

Most of the country’s coral reefs have already been affected – of a total of 25,000 square km less than 5% are still in excellent condition – while mangroves are disappearing at a rate of 2000 hectares a year.

Fish catches have plummeted in line with the decline of coral reefs, with average catches of reef fish falling from 20kg a day 30 years ago to 2kg today.

“The project will directly address threats to major coastal ecosystems including coral reefs, sea grass, mangroves, and beaches, to improve fishing catches in the coastal waters and address environmental degradation,” says M. Jamilur Rahman, an ADB principal project management specialist.

By funding the project the Bank hopes to remove the principal causes of the continuing ecosystem and fisheries decline, which it lists as “lack of an integrated approach to coastal zone planning, policy and institutional weaknesses, weak law enforcement, high poverty incidence, and unabated access to marine and coastal resources.”

The Philippines’ Department of Environment and Natural Resources will oversee the project over its six year duration.

Goska Romanowicz

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