Regulated Fishing could Help Improve Food Security while Saving Marine Biodiversity

The FISH-BE model has shown that regulated fishing through Marine Protected Area (MPA) Networks could increase fish catch – while improving the state of the marine ecosystem in key areas in the country.

This simulated study from the FISH-BE model means that regulated fishing could help feed the poor and hungry population in the long run, better than the current practice of overfishing. Other studies have also shown that 50% of marine areas need to be protected and regulated to counter the effects of years of overfishing, fishing malpractices, and other factors like climate change.

“This would seem to be an impossible task”, said Dr. Porfirio Aliño of the Marine Science Institute of the University of the Philippines Diliman, during his ADSS presentation on 15 February 2011. He later added that in terms of fisheries management, the cost of doing nothing is much greater.

Dr. Aliño furthered that MPA’s should be implemented in the context of a network or networks of MPAs, working together to achieve a goal. As example, he cited the practice of regulating the efforts of a network of fishing municipalities under a joint alliance within a bay.

His presentation, titled Integrating Marine Biodiversity Conservation Strategies with the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management, also highlighted the current initiatives towards protecting the marine environment, like the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) and the different tools available for improving marine ecosystems management, including decision support systems (DSS) tools.

The Coral Triangle Initiative was formed through the partnership of six countries in the coral triangle area, namely: Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, the Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste. The countries committed themselves to proactively implementing measures to protect the area’s resources for future generations. The CTI’s goals include: managing priority seascapes, applying the ecosystems approach to fisheries management, establishing and effectively managing MPAs, applying climate change adaptation measures, and improving the status of threatened species.

According to Dr. Aliño, the Philippines is the global center of marine diversity.  Found at the apex of the coral triangle, the country is being subjected to the harmful effects of climate change.  As a government research and development initiative, and one of the coral triangle region's models for climate change adaptation, a local program called ICE CREAM (Integrated Coastal Enhancement: Coastal Research Evaluation and Adaptive Management) is being implemented by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). Dr. Aliño serves as the program leader.

Initiatives like CTI and ICE CREAM, coupled with the effective implementation of MPAs, could help improve the resilience of our marine ecosystems and increase biodiversity. This will, in turn, increase fish yield and address food security concerns in the region. (Regine Joy P. Evangelista)

The point of view taken by this article is entirely that of the presenter's and does not reflect in any way, SEARCA’s position.


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