The fisheries sector is enormously important to the economy of the Philippines, particularly to the poorer and more marginalized citizens whose livelihoods depend on small-scale fisheries. Excessive fishing has resulted in a decrease in the average sizes of fishes, shifts in species composition, and a steep decline in abundance of valuable species. The Ecosystems Improved for Sustainable Fisheries (ECOFISH) program provides technical assistance to protect key marine biodiversity areas in the Philippines. Through a joint initiative between the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, ECOFISH aims to improve the management of important coastal and marine resources and associated ecosystems that support local economies. Specifically, ECOFISH conserves biological diversity, enhances ecosystem productivity, and restores the profitability of fisheries in eight key marine biodiversity areas by using ecosystem-based approaches to fisheries management.

[…] the ECOFISH team has shown amazing stamina, a can-do attitude, and vision. It is a true pleasure working with them, and I think you should know how pleased we are.

Joseph Foltz, Acting Director, Office of Environment, Energy, and Climate Change USAID/Manila, Philippines

Tetra Tech is implementing the ECOFISH project through an approach that integrates best practices and  involves local communities throughout the project cycle. Through local partnerships with academic institutions, the private sector, and nongovernmental organizations, we are reinforcing the livelihood activities of local communities. To gain support for sustainable fisheries management, ECOFISH focuses on key, high-leverage partnerships as well as community-based private-sector initiatives to ensure the sustainability of biodiversity conservation.

Using innovative technologies created by our ECOFISH team, we are registering small-scale fishers in isolated areas throughout the Philippines. The project team has worked with the Philippines Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and the Philippines Department of Science and Technology’s Information and Communications Technology Office to create an online fisher registration system and database called FishR. In the past fishers were required to travel long distances to register. Using FishR, they are able to register in minutes on a computer or mobile device. This saves them money and time; it has also resulted in a much higher number of registered fisheries.

Access to computers and the internet, however, remains severely limited. To make FishR more available, the project team initiated a public-private partnership to bring high-speed internet to five pilot sites in the Bohol Region. “Super Wi-Fi” is provided using a technology called TV White Space, which harnesses unused television frequencies. It has enabled entire communities to access reliable, high-speed internet. This technology can provide Wi-Fi over ranges 10 times greater than traditional methods at a low cost and with minimal infrastructure required, making it a promising solution in developing countries.