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sustainable fishing in the philippines
woman fisher
why the philippines?
fish market
$3.3 billion in revenue generated by fisheries
fish catch
47% of fish caught in the Philippines by coastal fishers
fishers with nets on the shore
85% of fishers are small-scale

Considered the center of global coral ecosystem biodiversity, the Philippines' waters contain almost ten percent of the world’s coral reefs, large swaths of mangrove forests and more Marine Protected Areas than any other country. 

More than 1.6 million small-scale fishers and their families rely on coastal waters to provide income and sustenance. They are among the poorest and most vulnerable sectors in the country.

But their average catch per day has been declining steadily for decades. Fishers now spend more time at sea, going further and further from home, for smaller yields.

reforming coastal fisheries

Together with 37 local governments, Rare is helping local conservation leaders establish managed access and no-take fishery zones where fish stocks can recover while providing fishers with greater social and economic incentives to fish more sustainably.

power in partnerships

Rare's work in the Philippines is supported by partnerships with both public and private sector organizations and non-government groups. Rare is partnering with the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), UNDP and GEF, through the country's Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and Bloomberg Philanthropies through its Vibrant Oceans Initiative.

Rare’s fisheries-focused social marketing campaign really ignited a sense of passion among my constituents and this helped in changing their attitudes and mindsets to protect our fishery resource instead of allowing destructive activities.”

Mayor Felix Sy (Municipality of Manjuyod, Negros Oriental)

what's working

  • Rare has partnered with 37 municipalities in implementing conservation campaigns that successfully changed behaviors at the community level towards conservation of coastal fisheries. Our work continues to produce replicable solutions in sustainable fisheries management. At the 2015 5th Para El MAR Awards — a body that awards the country's best Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) — eight of the twelve finalists, including the grand winner, were MPAs assisted by Rare.
  • 25 conservation leaders from local government units, national agencies and NGOs have graduated from Rare’s Local Leadership ProgramIn 2016, these Rare conservation Fellows were tapped to train a whole new set of conservation advocates and partners, grantees of the Protected Area Management Enhancement program, because of their successful and proven social marketing skills. 
  • We are working closely with national government agencies, including the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Agriculture – Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

how we will succeed

In the Philippines, Rare and partners are working to achieve the following results by 2020:

  • Establish managed access for the fisheries in 20 percent of coastal municipalities. 
  • Improve the management and protection of municipal waters and its no-take fishing zones.
  • Increase fish biomass, abundance and coral reef cover inside marine sanctuaries at our project sites.

follow our journey

The story of Lovie
November 2018
In less than two minutes, watch and learn about the coastal municipality of Bindoy’s journey to Fish Forever in this animation explainer video. Watch the video >

Sustainable fisheries and behavior change
September 2018
Early results from the Fish Forever program in the Philippines, from 2014 to 2017, show modest gains in improving fishers’ behavior and fish populations in pilot sites. In this summary report, find out how we are scaling up efforts to legally establish locally managed fishing grounds and marine sanctuaries. Read the report >

June 2018
Since the declaration of the Tañon Strait Protected Seascape in 1998, local governments and coastal communities have been working together to sustain fisheries and protect marine ecosystems, with support from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. Take a look at the challenges they faced and their accomplishments in this engaging short film. Watch the video >

How to Create Fishing Zones in Tañon Strait
May 2018
More than a decade ago, the Tandayag Marine Sanctuary in the municipality of Amlan was on the brink of collapse, with commercial fishers depleting its marine life and marginal fishers destroying the fragile coral reefs with their use of poison to catch fish. This year, the municipal government is celebrating the success of local efforts to reverse the decline of coastal fisheries and ecosystems. Read more >

Creating financial incentives to sustain coastal fisheries
April 2018
Conservation enterprises and savings clubs are helping Filipino fishers become more economically resilient in remote communities. In our latest newsletter, we also hear from Rare fellow Gina Barquilla’s sea patrols, and see some images from the FishEye photo exhibit in celebration of the Philippines’ Sustainable Seafood Week. Read more >

Building climate-resilient coastal communities
January 2018
Our latest newsletter features the story of Pilar, an island municipality in the central Philippines that has risen from the ravages of Typhoon Haiyan with innovative projects to restore its mangrove forests and other coastal ecosystems. The Philippine delegation’s participation in the climate change conference in Bonn, and an insightful visit to a Japanese fishing community are also in this issue. Read more >

Making waves in the Philippines
November 2017
From a small operation in 2010 focusing on marine sanctuaries, to a nationally recognized government partner on sustainable fisheries, the Philippines office of Rare has grown steadily through the years. Learn how they help set up exclusive fishing zones for registered fishers, link up coastal communities with premium markets for seafood, work for policy reform and many more in this engaging folio. Read more >

A toast to the Philippines’ TURF pioneers
October 2017
The third batch of Rare fellows in the Philippines received their certificates of completion in a glittering affair in September 2017. Their stories are featured in this newsletter, along with a personal narrative from a conservation partner and photos of a behavioral insights mission in a dynamic coastal community. Read more >

Journey of Bindoy
October 2017
Bindoy is one of the municipalities in Tañon Strait, one of the largest marine protected areas in the Philippines. In this explanatory video, local officials and fishers describe their marine conservation program that has become a model for other coastal towns. They show how the strategy of setting up managed access areas for licensed fishers, and enforcing the law in no-take zones inside marine sanctuaries, promotes sustainable fisheries. Bindoy began its partnership with Rare in 2010, and also adopted the Fish Forever program. Watch the video >

Celebrating Community-Managed Fisheries in the Philippines​
June 2017
Around 200 guests from national and local government units, donor agencies, NGOs, academic institutions and community partners came together for a festive showcase of the most successful and well-designed sites that have shown how fishers can uphold their rights to municipal fishing grounds, take responsibility for protecting marine resources and reap the rewards for their efforts. Speakers from the Bureau of Fisheries and Natural Resources and the National Economic and Development Authority presented the government’s programs in supporting the municipal fisheries sector. Mayors, Rare Fellows, and fishers from six Fish Forever sites shared their experience in developing managed access areas and protecting marine sanctuaries. Watch the video >

Restaurants, Businesses and Non-Profits Come Together to Promote Sustainable Seafood
March 2017
What does it take to get a sustainably caught piece of fish from a coastal community all the way to your plate at a restaurant? More than you might realize. The work of bringing sustainable seafood to consumers requires collaboration and commitment from all actors in the supply chain: fishers, processors, restaurants and consumers. The Second Annual Sustainable Seafood Week in the Philippines, held from February 20-26 this year, highlighted and strengthened the links between these diverse actors to advance this important cause. Read full story >

Tañon Strait Protected Seascape Project
August 2016
The Tañon Strait is a large and critical fishing ground for Filipino communities. Though Tañon Strait serves as the largest marine protected area in the Philippines under the National Integrated Protected Area System (NIPAS), it hasn’t always been treated as such. Tañon Strait has succumbed to overfishing and illegal fishing, as well as pollution and industrial development. The Tañon Strait Protected Seascape has a governing body with more than 350 members, and due to the management board’s sheer size and jurisdiction, issues between national agencies and local government units, it’s been difficult to organize and make collective decisions around Tañon Strait’s protection. Read full story >

Cantilan, Philippines
November 2015
Cherry Ravelo-Salazar mobilized her Cantilan community through a series of science-driven workshops with fishermen, and recently accomplished a major milestone by implementing the Philippines’ first ever legally-established TURF+Reserve. With this, the community has established a management plan and is using billboards, regular meetings, and more to ensure awareness and compliance of their fishery. The TURF+Reserve is monitored 24/7 by community volunteers. Read full story >

Tinambac and Cantilan, Philippines
October 2015
Two fishing communities in the Philippines approve first TURF+Reserve designs. Read full story >

rare in the media

Stanford graduate students create ice bag to keep fish fresh
Nov. 21, 2018

Two teams from Stanford’s design school collaborated with Rare Philippines in coming up with an ice bag that can maintain the freshness of fish at sea and a storage box for surplus ice, as solutions to the cold chain challenges of retaining the freshness of the fish catch and getting more premium prices for small-scale fishers.

Securing fisheries to ensure food security
October 16, 2018

In the last decade, many local governments have realized that investing time and resources in fisheries management has slowly led to an increase in fish catch. In this opinion piece for World Food Day, Rare Philippines coastal resource specialist Rizaller Amolo notes the importance of securing our fisheries to ensure food security in the country.
Read more >

Conservation at the village level
July 8, 2018

Many fishers in Ayoke island in Cantilan, Surigao del Sur are joining conservation enterprises and learning the role of markets in helping them adopt sustainable practices. This feature story shows how self-help organizations are contributing to financial resilience in remote fishing communities.
Read more >

Profiles: Rocky Sanchez Tirona
June 14, 2018

CNN Philippines marked World Oceans Day in June with a special feature about the Vice President of Rare Philippines, including our work on sustainable fisheries in municipal waters.
Watch the video > 

Fish Forever: A campaign to enhance behaviors that sustain marine resources
June 11, 2018

This banner story in the regional newspaper SunStar Davao offers a glimpse into Rare’s signature fisheries program in two partner municipalities in Tañon Strait, where selected media got the opportunity to take part in a dive safari and interact with coastal communities.
Read more >

Sea change for small-scale fishers
May 31, 2018

May 31 is celebrated in the Philippines as National Fisherfolks’ Day, a small token of recognition compared to their huge contribution in providing food security and economic wealth, policy specialist for Rare Philippines Dennis Calvan writes in this opinion piece for Rappler. The role of fishers as resource managers has long been overlooked, and local governments are learning that giving fishers preferential rights through an ordinance is a big incentive in protecting municipal fisheries. 
Read more >

Celebrating Women's Month with the fearless females in fisheries
March 9, 2018

Marilou, Analou. Marju, Susan, Gina. Dita, Lina. Evelyn, Mary Jean. These are just a few of the women changing our fishing seascapes forever. Their stories of meaningful participation in developing the fisheries sector affirm the need for gender equality, as Rare Philippines’ May V. Blanco writes in this Women’s Month feature for Rappler.
Read more >

Filipino fishers bank on each other
March 5, 2018

More than 100 savings clubs have emerged as self-help mechanisms for vulnerable coastal communities in the Philippines, where access to financial literacy tools is often limited. The extra income has given fishers a bigger return in the future, such as a robust house, a good education for their children, or a profitable small business of their own.
Read more >

Rising from Yolanda, island town of Pilar aims for climate resilience
December 17, 2017

When Mayor Eufracio Maratas established the Pilar municipal marine park in 2005, when he was still a councilor, little did he know that the conservation effort would help fishers survive the devastation from typhoon Haiyan many years later. Together with Rare fellow Susan Cataylo, he is now striving to protect the natural ecosystems of Pilar – from the forests in the uplands to the coral reefs in the sea – as a way of shielding the vulnerable coastal community from the impact of climate change.
Read more >

Cortes town in Surigao del Sur has country’s cleanest coastline
December 12, 2017

When he first took office in 2013, Mayor William Angos battled the prevalence of illegal fishing despite high environmental awareness among residents. Realizing that conservation was a social problem, he worked with Rare fellow Vincent Dueñas in addressing the basic needs of fishers, while persuading them to protect the sources of their livelihood.
Read more >

Beyond sardines: The quest for sustainable fisheries
November 21, 2017

The mystery of the oceans is lost to many Filipinos, who do not realize that the open access system – with everyone given free rein to fish wherever and whenever they want – leads to competition and unregulated harvest among fishers. In this essay for World Fisheries Day, senior director for technical operations Roquelito Mancao shares his insights — one of them the biggest challenge in Philippine fisheries, which is the widely held belief that marine resources are infinite. Read more >

Celebrating the harvest from the sea in Cortes
October 9, 2017
The small town of Cortes celebrated the bountiful harvest from the sea and its coconut farms during its Foundation Day last October 1. This year is probably its proudest fiesta, after the Rare-assisted town won P20-million worth of livelihood projects from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources for having the cleanest and most well-managed coastal resources in the country. Read more >

The art and science of ‘hugot’
October 1, 2017
What does it take for change to stick? When addressing issues like food security, education, or environmental threats, complex frameworks and metrics are only part of the equation for long-term success. As Vice President of Rare’s Philippines program Rocky Sanchez Tirona notes, understanding human behavior and what motivates change is a central and essential piece of the puzzle. In her piece for Rappler, Tirona highlights the power of leveraging human insights, or hugot, to bring positive change for fisheries in the Philippines. Read more >

Protecting the Fishing Bounty Along Libertad's 'Tuna Highway'
August 26, 2017
In 2014, Rare partnered with the Filipino fishing community of Libertad to curb the depletion of fish stocks and protect the livelihoods of small-scale fishers. With the looming threat of commercial fishing and neglected marine sanctuaries, fishers and local leaders alike set out to design a 'managed-access' approach and restore their critical coastal resource.
Read more as Filipino news outlet Rappler shares Rare’s chronicle of their initial journey, the progress they've made and what's in store for the future.

Group Lauds PDP 2017-2022 Push for Marine Sanctuaries

March 30, 2017
In its latest 5-year development plan, the Philippine government focuses its policies on giving local fishers the rights to manage their coastal fishing grounds and marine sanctuaries. The plan highlights that the most effective strategy to implement that fisheries management approach is through motivating behavior change at the community and individual level, marking notable progress in establishing long-term solutions for sustainable management of the country's coastal fisheriesRead More >

DENR urges LGUs to protect Tañon Strait
August 30, 2016
Local chief executives of the 17 coastal cities and municipalities from three provinces—Cebu, Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental—signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with Rare Philippines in Cebu City to boost the management of local MPAs within the Tañon Strait Protected Seascape. Rare also launched Fish Forever Flex, an alternative strategy to effective sustainable fisheries management. Read full story >

Pushing Sustainable Fishing, One Plate at a Time

March 16, 2016
Recognizing the power of product buyers and diners, non-profit organization  Rare Philippines and Swiss-led seafood trading company Meliomar Inc. have joined forces to promote sustainably fished marine products from a community of small-scale fishers in Antique province among top-rated hotels and restaurants in Metro Manila. Read full story >

Rare’s Impact and Role within Bloomberg’s Vibrant Oceans Initiative
Bloomberg Philanthropies

March 10, 2015
Bloomberg Philanthropies interviews Brett Jenks to learn about Rare’s impact in the Philippines, as part of their innovative Vibrant Oceans Initiative to simultaneously reform both local and industrial fishing. Read full story > 

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