Scientists train Malaysia’s leaders in an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management

Supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program, Rusty Brainard and Megan Moews of the PIFSC Coral Reef Ecosystem Division (CRED), with Robert Pomeroy of the U.S. Coral Triangle Initiative (USCTI) Coral Triangle Support Partnership (CTSP) and USCTI consultant Kevin Hiew, led a 2-day training workshop in Putrajaya, Malaysia, on an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management (EAFM) for leaders, executives, and decision makers (LEAD) on Dec. 10–11. This workshop was hosted by the Malaysian National Coordination Committee of the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries, and Food Security (CTI-CFF), the CTI-CFF EAFM Technical Working Group Secretariat and the CTSP in collaboration with Malaysia’s Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation (MOSTI), Department of Fisheries Malaysia, Department of Fisheries, Sabah, and World Wildlife Fund Malaysia.

Prof. Dr. Nor Aieni Binti Haji Mokhtar, the undersecretary and director of Malaysia’s National Oceanography Directorate, Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation, gives the official opening for the “Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management for Leaders, Executives, and Decision Makers” training course. NOAA photo by Megan Moews

Prof. Dr. Nor Aieni Binti Haji Mokhtar, the undersecretary and director of Malaysia’s National Oceanography Directorate, Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation, gives the official opening for the “Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management for Leaders, Executives, and Decision Makers” training course. NOAA photo by Megan Moews

An EAFM is a more holistic approach to managing fisheries that broadens conventional fisheries management through consideration of the ecological, human, and governance components that interact with or affect an ecosystem. To implement an EAFM in their region, on-the-ground fisheries and coastal resource managers have often expressed a need for endorsement and empowerment from higher levels of leadership. These needs were brought to the attention of the USCTI EAFM leads as well as the CTI-CFF and USAID leadership, and, as a result, this EAFM LEAD training course was developed.

The training in Malaysia was the first EAFM LEAD workshop for the Coral Triangle region, and it will be carried out in 5 additional countries, including the Philippines, Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and potentially Indonesia. CRED already has led more in-depth, introductory training courses on EAFM for resource managers in 3 separate locations in Indonesia.

The EAFM LEAD training addressed key concepts, such as why to use EAFM, what is EAFM, how to implement EAFM, and next steps to take, on a higher level than does the introductory EAFM 101 course for managers and resource persons. Designed for leaders, the training in Malaysia appeared to be a success because a diverse group of high-level participants—including (but not limited to) decision makers for fisheries management, policy, enforcement, forestry, and socioeconomics—all engaged in a great deal of discussion regarding EAFM concepts and application. Many of these individuals had only limited knowledge of EAFM and, therefore, learned a great deal during this workshop. Some of the participants and their agencies already were implementing aspects of EAFM, and they shared what they had learned so far with the others even as they learned more about potential for expansion of their efforts.

Leaders from several agencies of the Malaysian government and other organizations (shown as a group above) engaged in active discussions during a training course on an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management on Dec. 10–11 in Putrajaya, Malaysia. NOAA photo

Leaders from several agencies of the Malaysian government and other organizations (shown as a group above) engaged in active discussions during a training course on an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management on Dec. 10–11 in Putrajaya, Malaysia. NOAA photo

The course evaluations from the participants indicate that the EAFM LEAD course was extremely helpful and achieved a desirable balance of roughly one-third for lectures or presentations and two-thirds for active participatory discussion. Participants particularly valued the extensive discussions and activities. This feedback suggests that the course stimulated a great deal of interest and interaction among participants and that conversations about implementation of an EAFM in Malaysia will continue beyond this recent workshop.

The leaders of Malaysia who participated in this course impressed us with many of the efforts already taking place to move their fisheries and coastal resource management toward an EAFM and with their motivation and commitment to positive change for their fisheries, ecosystems, and their people. The people of Malaysia further impressed us with their courteousness, friendliness, and generosity.

EAFM LEAD participants came from the following agencies (with host agencies listed first):

By Megan Moews
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