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

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

Main Activities

  • Identification and mapping of nursery and spawning habitats to quantify their extent and establish baselines for monitoring recovery. This will include investigations of the sequential use of mangroves, sea grasses and coral reefs by fish to determine connectivity between spawning, nursery and adult habitats.
  • Assessment of the current management of these habitats and the effectiveness of such management, including analyses of existing policies and activities and their success/failure
  • Assessment of the current status and threats to critical coastal habitats, and what is needed to mitigate these threats.

Milestones

Year 1:

  • Coastal habitat assessment including identification and mapping of nursery and spawning habitats   for key commercially important, vulnerable and threatened species.

Year 2:

  • Assessment of the current management of these habitats and the effectiveness of such MPA management, including analyses of existing policies and institutional aspects.

Key outputs

  • Inventory and maps of critical nursery and spawning habitats for key commercially important,   vulnerable and threatened species, such as groupers, humphead wrasse, and bumphead parrotfish, among others.
  • Assessment of the management effectiveness of existing marine and coastal protected areas and existing coastal and watershed management policies.
  • Strengthened local capacity for managing and mitigating damage to critical coastal habitats.
  • Increased awareness of the value of critical coastal habitats.

Expected impacts

  • Enhanced fisheries productivity due to mitigation of critical coastal habitats.
  • Greater number of people deriving livelihoods from more productive fisheries.

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