Fish Forever in the Philippines: Campaign for managed access and sanctuaries

Published: 17 April 2017
Last edited: 30 September 2020
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A social marketing and behavior change campaign is being implemented to encourage community support for the set-up of Managed Access Areas + Sanctuaries, a fishery management approach that designates exclusive fishing areas for certain groups of fishers in exchange for compliance with more sustainable fishery practices. This is paired with a household resiliency strategy to help build financial assets for houselholds supporting the program.


Southeast Asia
Scale of implementation
Coral reef
Marine and coastal ecosystems
Access and benefit sharing
Coastal and marine spatial management
Fisheries and aquaculture
Food security
Legal & policy frameworks
Local actors
Sustainable livelihoods
Unsustainable harvesting incl. Overfishing
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Changes in socio-cultural context
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Poor monitoring and enforcement
Unemployment / poverty


Looc, Occidental Mindoro, the Philippines


Environmental: Fishing grounds around Looc have been overfished, and sizes of fish caught have been declining in the past few years. Social: Fishers know that their waters are overfished, but are wary of new management approaches that might restrict their fishing even more. Setting up managed access areas around no-take zones or sanctuaries requires strong community buy-in, agreement around areas to be delineated, trust, and constant cooperation between the local government, local village leaders, and groups of fishers. Economic: There is high dependence on fishing as the main source of livelihood in Looc. Shifting to more sustainable practices and limiting access to certain fishing areas will require viable alternative or supplementary livelihood options.


Fishers, fisher associations, the Municipal Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council, the local municipal government, including members of the Agriculture office, legislative council and mayor’s office.

How do the building blocks interact?

The process goes through several stages, including Understanding the People and Context, Design Process and Implementation, and Building Household Financial Resiliency, but it is all underpinned throughout by the building blocks of Community Engagement and Behavior Change, as well Organizational Development and Capacity-Building. These two critical building blocks must accompany all the steps in the process in order to make them effective and long-lasting.


1,144 hecatares of municipal waters have been legally declared as a Managed Access Area + Sanctuary, which will support protection of critical habitats and allocation of exclusive access to fishers that comply with more sustainable practices. More than 800 fishers have been reached by awareness campaigns about sustainable fishing practices, and have participated in knowledge-building and decision making sessions.


Jose Ambrocio
“As an islander, life was harsh, having difficulty in accessing potable water and electricity. Means of living in our town mostly come from fishing. During my childhood and teenage days, I was engaged in blast fishing and joined as a crew member of a commercial trawl fishing vessel. However, after so many years of engaging in illegal fishing activities, I got interested in public service, serving in our local village youth council. I was elected as the youth village chairperson and got employed in our municipality under the Municipal Agriculture Office. From there, I got elected as Municipal Councilor and chosen as chairperson on agriculture and environment committee. As a Municipal Councilor, I got involved in coastal fisheries resource management programs supported by Non-Government Organizations and National Government Agencies. First, with the help of Conservation International, I led the team in establishing Marine Protected Areas. And now, with the Fish Forever campaign of Rare, we are working to balance the economic needs of the people and the need to conserve the resources for the future generation. Fishers now come to me to tell me that they understand better what we are all trying to do."

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Veera Mitzner Rare

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Municipality of Looc, Occidental Mindoro / Rare