SEAFDEC PROGRAMS OF ACTIVITIES IN 2017
THRUST 3. IMPROVING MANAGEMENT CONCEPTS AND APPROACHES FOR SUSTAINABLE FISHERIES
3.3 Promotion of the fisheries Refugia concept
The South China Sea is a global center of shallow water marine biological diversity that supports significant fisheries that are important to food security and export incomes of the Southeast Asian countries. Accordingly, inshore waters of the South China Sea basin are subject to intense fishing pressure. With fish production being intrinsically linked to the quality and area of habitats and the heightened dependence of coastal communities on fish, a need exists to improve the integration of fish habitat considerations and fisheries management in the region. Taking into consideration the aforementioned circumstances, SEAFDEC/TD embarked in 2016 the 5-year project “Establishment and Operation of a Regional System of Fisheries Refugia in the South China Sea and Gulf of Thailand.” Funded by Global Environment Facilities (GEF), the project was executed regionally by SEAFDEC and UNEP in partnership with the government agencies responsible for fisheries in the six (6) participating countries, namely: Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, and Viet Nam. The Project has the specific objective of “operating and expanding the network of fisheries refugia in the South China Sea and Gulf of Thailand for improved management of fisheries and critical marine habitats linkages in order to achieve the medium and longer-term goals of the fisheries component of the Strategic Action Programme for the South China Sea.”
Implementation of this project was aligned with the Regional Guidelines for Responsible Fisheries in Southeast Asia, particularly the “Supplementary Guidelines on Co-management Using Group User Rights, Fishery Statistics, Indicators and Fisheries Refugia,” as well as the recent regional policy guidance promoting the development of projects and initiatives aimed at ensuring more ecosystem-based approaches to fisheries management in the Southeast Asian region. The key anticipated results from this project include: establishment of operational management at 14 priority fisheries refugia in the six participating countries; strengthened enabling environments for the formal designation and operational management of refugia; enhanced national uptake of best practices in integrating fisheries management and biodiversity conservation; and strengthened cross-sectoral coordination for integrated fisheries and environmental management.
To proceed on the project implementation, Letters of Agreement were signed in 2017 with four out of the six participating countries, namely: Cambodia, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand; while for Indonesia and Viet Nam, this is still under process. To date, a total of eight priority fisheries refugia sites have been identified in three countries: (1) Cambodia:
Kep Province - for blue swimming crab refugia in sea grass area; Preah Sihanouk Province - for juvenile grouper refugia in the coral reef area of Koh Rong Archipelago; and Koh Kong Province - for Indo-Pacific mackerel in transboundary area with Trat Province of Thailand;
(2) Thailand: Trat Province - for Indo-Pacific Mackerel in transboundary area with Koh Kong Province of Cambodia; and Samui Archipelago in Surat Thani Province - for Indo-Pacific mackerel refugia; and (3) Philippines: Bolinao, Pangasinan - for siganus refugia in very large sea grass area; Masinloc, Zambales - for juveniles of Frigate tuna (Auxis spp.) refugia;
and Coron, Palawan - for fusilier fish refugia in coral reef area, and mud crab refugia in mangrove area.
Site Level Inception Workshop and Baseline Data Collection in Bolinao, Pangasinan, Philippines on 23-25 March 2017
Site Level Inception Workshop and Baseline Data Collection in Coron, Palawan, Philippines on 23-25 March 2017
Site Level Inception Workshops and Baseline Data Collection were conducted in 2017 for three refugia sites in the Philippines, while Stakeholders Consultation Workshops were organized in Kep and Koh Kong Provinces of Cambodia.
From the activities carried out in 2017, major achievements had been attained. These included: (1) intensive series of consultations on the boundaries of fisheries refugia which have been supported by facilitated processes to identify key threats to fisheries refugia sites and initiate discussion about possible management measures for evaluation, i.e.
governance reviews, stakeholder analyses, socio-economic information and data collation, and reviews of existing management arrangements that are still underway; (2) improvement of the management of critical habitats for fish stocks of transboundary significance via national and regional actions to strengthen the enabling environment and knowledge-base for fisheries refugia management in the South China Sea, i.e. development of working document for regional level review on key threats from fishing and the environment to fish stock and critical habitat linkages at the priority sites in the participating countries; existing regulations and by-laws in the areas of the eight (8) sites where the project is presently working, compiled and reviewed with feedback provided to national teams to aid in the formulation of recommendations on policy and legal reforms to support promotion of responsible fishing at times and at locations critical to fish stock and critical habitat linkages;
workshops with local stakeholders and officials on policy and legal aspects of refugia (terminology, procedures, recommended reforms) in the participating countries that
Site Level Inception Workshop and Baseline Data Collection in Masinloc, Zambales, Philippines on 23-25 March 2017
Stakeholders Consultation Workshop in
Kep Province, Cambodia, 22-24 August 2017 Stakeholders Consultation Workshop in Koh Kong Province, Cambodia,12-14 September 2017 allowed discussions viewed through a more realistic lens to reflect the local stakeholders’
needs, expectations, and concerns about socio-economic impacts of management;
questionnaire survey templates prepared to: (a) compile and update information and data on the distribution of habitats, known spawning areas, locations of refugia, MPAs, fisheries management areas, and critical habitats for endangered species; (b) produce detailed site characterizations for the 14 priority fisheries refugia sites for incorporation into national and regional datasets, and preparation of detailed Terms of Reference for the development and application of a modeling system linking oceanographic, biochemical, and fish early life history information to improve regional understanding of fish early life history and links to critical habitats and discussion with regional universities, and internationally-recognized institutions with expertise in this field; (3) information management and dissemination in support of national and regional-level implementation of the fisheries refugia concept in the South China Sea, i.e. the fisheries-refugia.org web portal established and populated with newly developed short films, and journal articles written by regional project staff, all supported by various social media platforms including YouTube and Facebook, and a six-part short film social media campaign prepared and disseminated in December 2017;
and (4) national cooperation and coordination for integrated fish stock and critical habitat management in the South China Sea were enhanced through the signing of Letters of Agreement with four out of the six participating countries, training of national teams in project management and governance arrangements, and following up on the progress of establishing agreements in eight out of 14 sites including the detailed terms of reference for site-based management boards.
THRUST 4. PROVIDING POLICY AND ADVISORY SERVICES FOR PLANNING