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Fish Forever


A new partnership providing a scalable solution

Building off our work for the Sustainable Oceans Solutions project supported by the Waitt Foundation, SFG has joined an exciting and innovative global initiative called Fish Forever. In partnership with Rare and the Environmental Defense Fund, the goal of Fish Forever is to empower coastal communities throughout the developing tropics to sustainably manage their own marine resources, resulting in productive and profitable fisheries, improved lives and livelihoods and ecosystem conservation and resilience. Fish Forever is focused on catalyzing change across nearshore tropical fisheries and is launching initially in the Philippines, Indonesia, Belize, Mozambique and Brazil. Each of these countries has high marine biodiversity, important coral reef habitat and communities highly dependent on their coastal fisheries.

Fish Forever works with fishing communities to create TURF-Reserves, which include spatial fishing rights called TURFs (Territorial User Rights Fisheries) and no-take zones (reserves) inside or adjacent to the TURF where fishing is not permitted. Providing exclusive access to coastal fisheries through TURFs is critical; it ensures that local fishermen reap the rewards of being responsible guardians of the sea. Additionally, reserves help to boost fish productivity while protecting biodiversity. The coupled TURF-Reserve system overcomes the limitations that these approaches face when used in isolation. TURF ownership means that spillover benefits of well-enforced reserves go directly to the local community, creating incentives for enforcement and compliance with no-take restrictions. Exclusive access can also be seen as a reward for establishing or enforcing a reserve, creating a clear benefits exchange. This has been demonstrated in many TURFs around the world where fishermen have decided to create their own reserves within their TURF. In short, well-designed TURF-Reserve systems will provide conservation, economic, and food security benefits in developing countries as they help to recover and sustain fish populations.

One of the unique aspects of Fish Forever is building a solution that is both rigorous and scalable. In order to build a scalable solution that is robust enough to work across multiple contexts, SFG and partners are investing in research and development and testing different approaches to identify the best strategies for successful and scalable TURF-Reserve design and management. The partnership will use a range of proven social marketing techniques coupled with incentive- and science-based management approaches to inspire local pride in stewarding natural marine resources and cultivate lasting community support for TURF-Reserves. Creating bright spots across the diverse set of initial countries will enable neighboring countries to more easily replicate Fish Forever successes.

What the Sustainable Fisheries Group brings to the partnership:

Most small scale fisheries lack enough data to make informed decisions about sustainable management. SFG is developing novel tools that use limited data in order to provide this much needed guidance. These strategies include models for fisheries recovery, tools for adaptive fisheries management, and guidance on the required monitoring and evaluation for long-term fisheries sustainability. SFG’s scientific expertise will help guide project site selection, TURF-Reserve design and the development and implementation of sustainable fisheries management practices. The scientific support and global expertise in bioeconomic modeling and fisheries science SFG provides will enhance the development of long-term sustainable fisheries practices.

For more information about Fish Forever see: or check out the Fish Forever Fact sheet

For more information on the tools SFG is developing see:

Guidelines for TURF-Reserve design and management

Tools to inform adaptive fisheries management

Photo: Fishing in Belize: Jason Houston