Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center/Training Department (SEAFDEC/TD)


Fisheries Resources Enhancement in Southeast Asian Region

Fisheries Resources Enhancement in Southeast Asian Region
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10 August 2021

Fisheries Resources Enhancement in Southeast Asian Region

Southeast Asia is blessed with high productivity of fisheries resources because of ecology enrichment. About one-third of the world’s coral reefs and a quarter of the world’s mangroves are found in the region. In 2015, the contribution from the Southeast Asian region to the world’s total fisheries production was approximately 22.0%.

However, fisheries in Southeast Asian countries have mostly exceeded their point of sustainability for several years. Some commercially important fishery resources and habitats in the region were degraded due to many factors e.g. overfishing, illegal fishing. If this trend continues, the fisheries will possibly collapse soon. Several projects have been applied to enhance fishery resources at local, national, and regional levels e.g. regulating fishing efforts, restoring degraded nurseries and spawning habitats, or through the juvenile releasing program.

Resources Enhancement Project Outcome

  • To increase the population/production of some selected species
  • To conserve and increase endemic and endangered species resources
  • To restore degraded natural habitats due to human activities and natural disasters
  • To protect spawning, nursery, and feeding grounds
  • To increase fish sanctuaries area
  • To increase the income of fishers in coastal waters

Several projects which could be grouped into five (5) protocols have been applied in the Southeast Asian region as following: 

1. Catch Management Area: This protocol could be the solution to consider marine areas in which specific management measures are applied to improve the productivity of habitat to sustain resources recruitment. Commonly, it relates to fishing prohibiting schemes such as Marine Protected Area (fishing gears are permanently prohibited), Close Season area (Some fishing gears, mostly commercial scale, are prohibited in a certain period), and Fisheries refugia (prohibiting catch during the critical stage of the life cycle of target species), etc.

Project examples: the Philippines establish a Closed Season policy for the conservation of Sardines in the East Sulu Sea, Basilan Strait, and Sibuguey Bay. Vietnam is ongoing to establish Fisheries refugia from 2020.

2. Habitat Rehabilitation: It is clear that there is a positive correlation between the total spawn-nursery area and the abundance of resources. Over the past decades, the number of degraded coastal habitats in Southeast Asia was significantly increased. In this regard, habitat rehabilitation projects have been implemented throughout Southeast Asia countries. It has been proven to be an effective tool to drastic address the problem of the degraded ecosystems, particularly in coral reefs, seagrasses, and mangroves in the region.  

Project examples: Habitat restoration in Malaysia have been initiated to restore degraded habitat especially the coral reef ecosystem since 2011. The projects of coral transplantation have been implemented in 4 central provinces in Viet Nam since the marine life disaster in 2016.

3. Artificial Reef Employment: There are manmade underwater structures which employed to serve as shelter and habitat, source of food, breeding area, and shoreline protection. These projects are implemented in various construction designs and materials with specific proposes e.g. square-shaped concrete structures, Fish enhancing devices (FEDs), shipwrecks, and concession expire oil rigs. ARs have been employed since the late 1970s. Nowadays, The effectiveness of the use of FEDs was tested all over Southeast Asian countries.

Project examples: Rig to reef project implemented in Brunei and Malaysia. The restocking of lobster by using cement artificial reef in Indonesia. DoF Thailand supporting the fishing communities to increase the fish habitat by constructing coconut leave FEDs.

4. Releasing Marine Life: This program usually refers to enhance fisheries resources by releasing early life stage to wild. The key success depends on knowing enough about the ecology of the species, its nursery habitat, and the survival of released life in the wild. All the Southeast Asian countries have their own releasing program. However, the capacity to produce and release life from aquaculture facilities is limited.

Project examples: Indonesia, in 2015, about 4,327 seeds of lobster were stocked in Pangandaran coastal Area. 2,794 seeds of lobster with an average of Carapace Length (CL) 46.02 mm and weight 97.69 gram were released in Prigi Bay. Crab and cuttlefish banks have been implementing in Thailand and Cambodia.

5. New Policies for Fisheries: This has been used to counteract the situation of high fishing pressure. Event though, it is difficult decisions to born new measure because it impacts a wide range of communities. New fisheries policies are continuously notified in Southeast Asian countries due to its powerful management to significantly improve populations and ensure healthy and abundant of fisheries resources.

New policy examples:

  • Applied EAFM concepts and principles for participatory community engagement
  • Implement Electric Monitoring System, AIS, VMS
  • 38 mm codend mesh size of trawl net (ongoing study in Malaysia)
  • Control of catch size of mackerel fish (Rastrelliger brachysoma and Rastrelliger kanagurta) by Malaysia purse seiner
  • Fishing quota by limit number of fishing days in Thailand
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Contacts Address

Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center/Training Department
P.O.Box 97, Phasamutchedi Samut Prakan 10290, Thailand
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  +66 2425 6100
  +66 2425 6110 to 11