Strengthening Governance of Small-Scale Fisheries Management

IBAMO Story Illustration (© IBAMO)
Published: 30 July 2015
Last edited: 28 March 2019
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An Ecosystem Approach for Fisheries (EAF) was adopted by municipalities in Misamis Occidental, Philippines, to improve small-scale fisheries management for poverty reduction. They belong to Iligan Bay Alliance of Misamis Occidental (IBAMO), an initiative providing governance frameworks for LGU collaboration. It aims to be a proactive, committed, dynamic alliance for sustainable coastal resource development and seeks to foster the wellbeing of the environment and the people depending on fishing.


Southeast Asia
Scale of implementation
Marine and coastal ecosystems
Open sea
Fisheries and aquaculture
Other theme
Governance; Coastal Resource Development
Unsustainable harvesting incl. Overfishing
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Poor monitoring and enforcement
Poor governance and participation
Lack of food security
Unemployment / poverty


Misamis Occidental, Philippines


neglections of ecosystem approaches in fisheries management and institutional arrangements The solution aims to assess existing institutional arrangements and to understand how an EAF can overcome barriers to effective integrated SSF management. The Alliance develops EAF strategies and actions for SSF management suitable for developing country contexts and strengthens the capacity of local fishery stakeholders and government agencies to collaborate and work within an EAF.


the empowerment of small-scale fisherfolk, women and local government units and societies

How do the building blocks interact?

The solution was organized in two phases: (1) participatory diagnosis and identification of suitable strategies; (2) collaborative pilot implementation of fisheries management strategies in the focal sites. The participatory diagnosis used PDAM and complemented by RAFMS to define the fishery to be managed and to identify its specific, adressable issues. It was followed by mobilization of a management constituency that had the highest potential of addressing the issues prioritized. Eight coastal municipalities or local government units and the Province of Misamis Occidental were engaged to constitute IBAMO. Stakeholder workshops were conducted to build consensus and formalize the alliance. The research phase was essential to understand how governance initiatives can build on preexisting knowledge and to define the limits of what is possible. This phase culminated in the development of action plans for collaborative piloting the implementation strategies at focal sites. Inclusion of all target groups (mainly municipal development, agriculture and environment officers) in both phases aimed to strengthen their capacity to undertake diagnosis processes and to collaborate on implementation of strategies to improve governance of SSF.


• Increased commitment to implement EAF in small-scale fisheries management through better understanding of its potential for poverty reduction and environmental sustainability • Better integration of EAF and existing institutional arrangements in focal sites via the Coastal Resources Management plans of LGUs • Enhanced understanding of the roles of MPAs to effectively implement EAF in the local context • Active participation of final beneficiaries, including women, in participatory research and collaborative implementation of EAF strategies • Capacity development of target groups (e.g. municipal development, agriculture and environment officer) through collaborative research and implementation of EAF strategies in project sites • production and dissemination of practical guidelines for EAF action programs and policy recommendations for long-term planning


The story of IBAMO can be compared to a “once upon a time” fairytale story that started from modest dreams and humble beginnings. The pictogram nicely illustrates the formation of IBAMO over time: IBAMO started as an offshoot project output of the Philippine-Australia Community Assistance Program (PACAP) that implemented a focused community assistance projects in several municipalities under the province of Misamis Occidental. Under PACAP, the Iligan Bay Coastal Resource Management Development Project was implemented by four neighboring municipalities (Tudela, Sinacaban, Jimenez and Panaon). The four fishes at the bottom of the pictogram represent these LGUs with the fishes swimming in different directions. They had not yet developed their common vision, thus, the establishment of IBAMO was put on hold and the LGUs went on different directions and activities. Later on, WorldFish implemeted the USAID-WorldFish “From Ridge to Reef Project”, an ecosystem-based approach from Mt. Malindang to coastal communities covering six LGUs. The re-establishment of IBAMO was then again triggered by this project adding two additional municipalities – Aloran and Oroquieta City. As illustrated, the six fishes started to grow big and started to swim towards one direction. By 2012, the European Commission (EC) and WorldFish implemented the “Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries in Small-Scale Tropical Marine Fisheries (EAF) Project” that supported the full establishment of IBAMO as an institutional complement to the ecosystem approach to coastal resource management. IBAMO member LGUs increased from six to eight, with the municipalities of Lopez Jaena and Plaridel joining the alliance. Through this project, the fishes gained more active colors. With signing of MoA between LGUs and institutional partners, the alliance was formally institutionalized. International partners of IBAMO, such as WorldFish and EC, provided institutional strengthening and capacity building activities to strengthen the alliance. IBAMO’s network of government and non-government institutions supported the alliance’s annual plans and programs technically and financially for activities like CRM certification, FISHR, color coding of municipal boats, conduct of IBAMO Day, IBAMO logo making contest and other R&D activities. IBAMO had earned its bright colors through the help of WorldFish and the EC. And as the alliance swims towards bigger waves they hope to expand more their numbers in order to gain more strength.

Contributed by

Len R. Garces World Fish

Other contributors

WorldFish - Philippine Country Office
WorldFish - Philippine Country Office