Sustainable fisheries, sustainable seas.

The Sustainable Fisheries Programme was added to the core project activities of People and the Sea in 2019. It offers a holistic approach to achieve the goals of marine conservation in Malapascua Island.

Many families still rely solely on fishing as their primary source of income, despite tourism having quickly developed over the past 20 years. Tourism has brought more jobs and opportunities for the community; however, it also raises important socio-economic challenges.

The need for this programme arose from People and the Sea’s observation of the economic and social divide between the tourism industry and the fisherfolk community.

Crucially, this programme aims to take conservation back to the community, and re-engage fisherfolks who have been mostly absent from previous conservation decisions made by government.

Our approach is to work within the community in order to create a trust relationship and to work together towards the development of locally-run marine conservation and management programs.

Fisheries Monitoring

Fisheries data are key to understanding fishing activities and their impact on fish stocks. The data collected supports a more sustainable management of fisheries. Initial data will help build a baseline of fishing stocks around Malapascua. Data collected are:

  • Fish Landing Data
    • Catch is a fundamental way of gauging the impact that fishing has on fish populations, as well giving in an insight into fisherfolk income and resource seasonality.
  • Fish Catch Measurement
    • Measurement of fish length is one of the most commonly used datasets in fish biology studies. Other closely related biological factors such as weight, age and maturity of fish species can be determined using length data collected per species.

This dataset will be an important tool for the local government to establish a fisheries management plan. In 2021, we collected data from 245 fishermen who caught an average of 6,920 kilos of fish per month.

Fisherfolk Empowerment

Affiliation with the Malapascua Fisherfolk Association (MAFA)

MAFA was established in 2004. However, it lacked organisation and capabilities to drive empowerment projects for the fisherfolk community. People and the Sea’s Sustainable Fisheries programme aims to support the association through organisational strengthening

Originally this was initiated by arranging regular meetings with the existing set of officers it became clear that the association needed guidance for defining officer roles and responsibilities.

One of the steps identified was for an officer’s election to be called. A dynamic and pro-active new set of officers were elected by an assembly of 86 fisherfolk and sworn into office by the Barangay Captain. The MAFA membership has grown to 162 members.

People and the Sea has been active in supporting the government with the registration of local fisherfolk. Among other advantages, being registered allows them to claim government assistance. 562 fishermen and fisheries sector workers were registered during a 5-day long event held in the island in October. These registrations, coupled with the information we collect during our ongoing fish-catch monitoring programme, will serve as basis for the application for government-funded services and grants that can be made available to these fishing communities