Theme 1: Reversing degradation of coastal resource

Project 1: Understanding material transfers from watersheds and reducing downstream effects of agriculture and forestry on coastal aquatic ecosystems

Core problem: Current farming and forestry practices, and the construction of infrastructure to support them, result in important losses of soil, nutrients and chemical inputs from target sites. This not only undermines the potential for future production from terrestrial plants, it causes profound and often damaging changes to the quality of coastal receiving waters and fish habitats. The challenge is to improve productivity by: i) understanding the mechanisms that deliver materials from catchments to coasts, ii) identifying and promoting ‗environmentally friendly‘ farming and forestry practices based on reduced chemical inputs and retention of soil and excess nutrients in catchments, and iii) enshrining these gains in the development of policies and institutional arrangements that recognize and harmonize all activities supporting rural livelihoods throughout watersheds, including coastal areas. 

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Project 2: Addressing non-optimal use of resources through valuation and "environmental payments"

Core problem: Unless the relative contributions of various resources that contribute to the productivity of coastal habitats are fully understood, sub-optimal decisions will be made about how they are used. For example, the economic value of mangrove forests as nursery areas yielding large numbers of juvenile fish to supply offshore fisheries may be much greater than their value for timber or fuel. If so, custodians of mangroves should be provided with economic incentives greater than the value of timber and fuel to manage them as fish nurseries. The problem is that the relative contribution of various terrestrial and coastal inputs to the maintenance of inshore ecosystems and fisheries production is not well known. Details of the component and principles involved are presented in Annex C.

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Project 3: Identifying, mapping and strengthening management of critical coastal habitats

Core problem: Agricultural and forestry practices, and a variety of coastal developments, have degraded or destroyed the habitats on which fish depend for food and shelter. Restoration of fisheries will ultimately depend on identifying which areas are favored as nursery habitats by fish, and protecting these habitats through spatial management systems (coastal protected areas) and through wise land-use practices and watershed management. Simply identifying the habitats that these organisms use however, is inadequate, as such a broad approach to determining essential habitat does not allow for prioritization of habitats for conservation and management. A better approach would be to concentrate conservation and restoration efforts on habitats or sites that are most important for the replenishment of adult populations. The most obvious examples in the marine environment are spawning aggregation sites and nursery habitats. In many cases, protecting critical habitats will involve active measures to mitigate damage and threats. To do this effectively, there is a need to ensure that the problems that caused the damage to fish habitats have been addressed. This will require assessments of management effectiveness to identify where capacity building is needed to ensure that the appropriate policies and governance are in place to mitigate these threats. Such mitigation could include a wide variety of activities, such as mangrove restoration in abandoned shrimp ponds, formulation of community-based watershed management plans, educational campaigns aimed at reducing agricultural burning, etc. Project 1 is expected to provide key information that will identify priority sites for spatial management and strengthen capacity of local government units to manage these sites and reduce external stresses such as non-point source pollution, sedimentation, etc. Details of this component are presented in Annex D.

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