By Megan Moews-Asher
Scientists from the Coral Reef Ecosystem Division of the NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center joined partners from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Bay of Bengal Large Marine Ecosystem (BOBLME) Project, NOAA Sea Grant, IMA International and trainers from Indonesia and the Philippines for two weeks last month to deliver the “Essential Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management” (Essential EAFM) course to the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC), the Coral Triangle Initiative Strategies for Trawl Fisheries Bycatch Management project, and regional partners in Samut Prakan and Rayong, Thailand.
The Essential EAFM course, which was jointly developed by these organizations and the U.S. Coral Triangle Initiative’s Coral Triangle Support Partnership (CTSP), provides basic knowledge on the EAFM process and how this process can assist in decision-making for responsible and sustainable fisheries. The core aim is for participants to develop professional planning skills for more effective and equitable management of fisheries. It is designed for personnel, including staff of economic development and planning agencies, who are responsible for administering fisheries and marine environments at the provincial or state and district or local levels. This comprehensive course responds to the need for regional capacity development that has been identified by representatives of fisheries agencies and institutions within the wider Asia-Pacific region through intergovernmental and regional fisheries processes.
This training effort had four main goals:
1) continue building capacity in Southeast Asia and the Coral Triangle region toward sustainable fisheries management through EAFM,
2) expand institutionalization of the Essential EAFM course within the region, potentially through SEAFDEC’s training department,
3) train trainers so that the course can be conducted by local people in their own languages and cultures, and
4) make modifications to improve the course.
The first week on Jan. 20–25 centered on initial Essential EAFM training during which participants developed and presented comprehensive EAFM plans that aimed to balance human well-being with ecological well-being through good governance. Their plans took into consideration the seven principles of EAFM: 1) good governance, 2) appropriate scale, 3) increased participation, 4) multiple objectives, 5) cooperation and coordination, 6) adaptive management, and 7) precautionary approach. These presentations were then followed by “Training of Trainers” on Jan. 26–29.
This two-week course was extremely successful, with 29 participants (including one NOAA participant) coming away with a much greater understanding of EAFM, the EAFM planning process, and how to train others about EAFM. Knowledge, confidence, and friendships began to bloom within the first few days of this course, and the training effort ended with the course greatly improved; a positive, heartfelt speech given by the Secretary General of SEAFDEC; plans made for SEAFDEC and other participants to conduct future Essential EAFM trainings; certificates of completion earned; and a celebration well deserved. Discussions are now underway between NOAA, the U.S. Agency for International Development, FAO, BoBLME, and SEAFDEC to potentially institutionalize the course through SEAFDEC.
We watched the EAFM seeds planted with SEAFDEC bloom last month, and we are seeing other seeds continue to grow in the Coral Triangle region as a result of previous courses and fisheries management technical assistance, including the Essential EAFM training held in Sabah, Malaysia, in November 2013 and earlier training workshops that involved the EAFM 101 and EAFM for leaders, executives, and decision-makers (LEAD) curricula. Participants (now trainers) from the Essential EAFM Sabah course not only led the Essential EAFM training with SEAFDEC but also have conducted one training course (with another planned) in Malaysia and one training course (with two more being planned) in the Philippines. In addition, officials from the Philippines and Indonesia have requested from NOAA assistance with customization of the Essential EAFM course for delivery in their respective countries.
The Essential EAFM course has been supported financially by the Global Environment Facility, the Norwegian Agency for International Development, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, and the FAO through the BOBLME Project; NOAA; and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) through the CTSP.