Fish Forever


SFG is engaged in 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 in the developing tropics to sustainably manage their own marine resources and promote productive and profitable fisheries, improved lives and livelihoods, and ecosystem conservation and resilience. Fish Forever works to catalyze change across nearshore tropical fisheries, and to date, the program has been launched in the Philippines, Indonesia, Belize, Mozambique and Brazil. Each of these countries has high marine biodiversity, important coral reef habitat, and communities that thrive when their coastal fisheries are healthy.

The objective of Fish Forever is to develop fisheries reform solutions that are both rigorous and scalable across multiple contexts. In order to build solutions of this kind, SFG and partners are investing in research and development and testing a variety of approaches to identify the best strategies for successful and scalable TURF-Reserve design and management. In order to maximize and sustain its impact, Fish Forever couples proven social marketing techniques with incentive- and science-based management approaches to motivate local pride in marine stewardship and support for TURF-Reserves. As successful interventions unfold across our pilot countries, neighboring countries will have the tools they need to easily implement their own Fish Forever projects.

SFG has played a key role in the Fish Forever partnership, providing technical expertise in fisheries assessment and management, bioeconomic modeling, monitoring and evaluation, and developing toolkits and training resources. Our work has supported several concrete, on-the-ground achievements, including:

  • Implementing a nationwide fisheries management framework for Belize's conch and lobster fisheries 
  • Developing the Adaptive Fisheries Assessment and Management Toolkit and Dashboard, and training tutorials which has now been used at campaign sites in Brazil, Indonesia, and the Philippines 
  • Creating fisheries assessment and management trainings with the Belize Fisheries Department, Brazilian Ministry of the Environment (ICMBio), and multiple Philippines municipalities
  • Developing an Online Interactive Data Visualization and Analytics Dashboard that updates in real-time as monitoring and evaluation data are collected across FF sites and can provide on-demand analytics to visualize and evaluate the global impact of FF
  • Synthesizing ecological, economic, and social monitoring and evaluation data from the first 41 campaign sites in Brazil, Indonesia, and the Philippines


Most small-scale fisheries lack the data needed to make informed management decisions, therefore, SFG is developing novel tools that require less data to produce science-based recommendations. These tools include bioeconomic forecasting models for TURF-Reserve design and fisheries recovery, innovative approaches for adaptive fisheries assessment and management, and guidance on developing the kinds of monitoring and evaluation programs that are critical to effective fisheries management. Between the bioeconomic models we build and the fisheries science expertise we provide, SFG is making a valuable contribution to the Fish Forever team, and ensuring the long-term sustainability of small-scale fisheries around the world. 


Fish Forever works with fishing communities to create TURF-Reserves (Territorial User Rights for Fishing combined with no-take marine reserves), a spatial resource management strategy that combines the benefits of rights-based fisheries management and marine reserves. Providing exclusive access to coastal fisheries through TURFs is critical; it ensures that local fishers are rewarded for being responsible guardians of the sea. Additionally, marine reserves help boost fish productivity while protecting biodiversity. The coupled TURF-Reserve system overcomes the limitations that these approaches face when used in isolation.

TURF ownership ensures that spillover benefits of well-enforced reserves go directly to the local communities that manage them. The spillover creates the necessary incentive for strict enforcement and compliance with no-take restrictions. Exclusive access is granted to fishers as a reward for establishing or enforcing a reserve, creating a clear benefits-exchange. This approach has been validated in communities around the world where fishers have elected to create reserves within their own TURF. In short, well-designed TURF-Reserve systems will provide conservation, economic, and food security benefits in developing countries, while simultaneously creating the critical environments for fishery recovery. 


Fish Forever is a collaborative effort between SFG, Rare, Environmental Defense Fund, and dozens of in-country academic, governmental and NGO partners in Mozambique, Brazil, Philippines, Indonesia, and Belize.

Reports & Publications

An adaptive assessment and management toolkit for data-limited fisheries. Ocean and Coastal Management, 2017.