CRED in the Coral Triangle: Building capacity for application of an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management

The Coral Triangle has the highest marine biological diversity in the world. The coral reefs and fisheries in this region encompass the tropical waters of Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea, and Solomon Islands.

Map of the six countries of the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries, and Food Security. Dashed line shows 
                 implementation area, based on Exclusive Economic Zones (VLIZ 2011). Solid line shows scientific boundary of the Coral Triangle 
                 (Veron et al. 2009).  Image courtesy of Coral Triangle Secretariat.
Map of the six countries of the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries, and Food Security. Dashed line shows implementation area, based on Exclusive Economic Zones (VLIZ 2011). Solid line shows scientific boundary of the Coral Triangle (Veron et al. 2009). Image courtesy of Coral Triangle Secretariat.

Supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S Department of State, and NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program the PIFSC Coral Reef Ecosystem Division (CRED) provides Coral Triangle countries with technical assistance and capacity building toward the application of an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management (EAFM) to achieve growth, conservation and sustainability for the following priorities:

  • Food security
  • Livelihoods
  • Biodiversity
  • Economic development
  • Threatened species
Fish and produce markets in Indonesia in 2012. NOAA photos by Megan Moews. Fish and produce markets in Indonesia in 2012. NOAA photos by Megan Moews. Fish and produce markets in Indonesia in 2012. NOAA photos by Megan Moews.
Fish and produce markets in Indonesia in 2012. NOAA photos by Megan Moews.

Not only does the Coral Triangle have the highest marine biological diversity in the world, but also its marine resources have economic value across the globe.

With expanding populations and development, increased global food demands, and extensive poverty, the coral reefs and fisheries in this region are highly threatened and severely impacted by the following pressures:

  • Overfishing
  • Destructive fishing (dynamite, cyanide, etc.)
  • Land-based pollution (from sedimentation, sewage, agriculture, or mining)
  • Climate change
  • Ocean acidification
  • Marine debris
  • Other effects from human activities and natural events
Images of marine biodiversity in the Coral Triangle. Photos courtesy of Megan Moews. Images of marine biodiversity in the Coral Triangle. Photos courtesy of Megan Moews. Images of marine biodiversity in the Coral Triangle. Photos courtesy of Megan Moews. Images of marine biodiversity in the Coral Triangle. Photos courtesy of Megan Moews.
Images of marine biodiversity in the Coral Triangle. Photos courtesy of Megan Moews.
Large amounts of trash in drainage system leading to the ocean. Photo courtesy of Rusty Brainard. Effect of blast fishing in the middle of a living reef. Photo courtesy of Megan Moews. Shark finning. Photo courtesy of Megan Moews. Dead shark, cause unknown. Photo courtesy of Megan Moews.
Examples of threats to coral reef ecosystems in the Coral Triangle: (from left to right) large amounts of trash in drainage system leading to the ocean; effect of blast fishing in the middle of a living reef; shark finning; and dead shark, cause unknown. Photos courtesy of Rusty Brainard (leftmost photo) and Megan Moews.

In 2007, the need to sustainably manage and protect coral reefs and their associated resources in the Coral Triangle was recognized as a priority by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia. Following his leadership, the six CT countries (CT6)—including Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands—established a multigovernment partnership, the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries, and Food Security (CTI-CFF), to work toward improved management of marine and coastal resources throughout the region.

The CT6 adopted a Regional Plan of Action with five main goals:

  • Promoting an ecosystem approach to fisheries management
  • Strengthening the management of priority seascapes
  • Improving effective management of marine protected areas
  • Improving coastal community resilience to climate change
  • Protecting threatened species

Ecosystem approaches to fisheries management

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization defines an EAFM as:

"An approach to fisheries management and development that strives to balance diverse societal objectives, by taking into account the knowledge and uncertainties about biotic, abiotic, and human components of ecosystems and their interactions and applying an integrated approach to fisheries within ecologically meaningful boundaries."

Presentation cover
An Overview and Guidelines for an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management (EAFM) - NOAA's Participation in Indonesia's Marine Resources Program. Click here to download (57.0 MB PDF).
Children fishing in Malaysia in 2012.  Photo courtesy of Jacob Asher.
Children fishing in Malaysia in 2012. Photo courtesy of Jacob Asher.

USAID, the U.S. Department of State, and CT6 partners requested NOAA technical assistance and capacity building to help the countries move toward implementation of EAFM in the Coral Triangle region. As a result, NOAA, as one of the three implementing partners of the U.S. CTI, works closely with the Coral Triangle Support Partnership, a collaboration between the World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy, and Conservation International, and the USAID Program Integrator led by ARD/Tetra Tech under the management of USAID's Regional Development Mission for Asia to provide this assistance.

In addition to the partnerships mentioned above, there is a wide range of partnerships helping to increase capacity for EAFM implementation in the region:

  • Government agencies of the CT6 countries (national, provincial, district, and municipal) as well as beyond the Coral Triangle
  • Marine science and fisheries universities
  • Nongovernmental agencies
  • Other NOAA technical experts
  • Regional fisheries management and other organizations

Activities for the application of EAFM in the Coral Triangle

Looking to the Future...

Nighttime fishing in Palawan, Philippines, in 2009. Image courtesy of Jacob Asher.
Nighttime fishing in Palawan, Philippines, in 2009. Image courtesy of Jacob Asher.

These collaborative efforts will benefit other countries, in addition to the CT6 countries, in the broader region and elsewhere around the world through development of practical guidelines and best practices for implementation of EAFM. Application of EAFM can support sustainable coastal ecosystems that provide long-term viability of livelihoods, food security, and economic gain from fisheries.

References

VLIZ
2011. Maritime Boundaries Geodatabase, version 6.1. Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ). Available online at http://www.vliz.be/vmdcdata/marbound.
Veron JEN, Devantier LM, Turak E, Green AL, Kininmonth S, Stafford-Smith M, Peterson N
2009. Delineating the Coral Triangle. Journal of Coral Reef Studies 11: 91–100. DOI: 10.3755/galaxea.11.91