Training course: Essential Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management (EAFM)


NOAA in the Coral Triangle and wider Southeast Asia

In 2007, the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security (CTI-CFF) was initiated as a multigovernment partnership between Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands. Requested by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Department of State, and the Coral Triangle countries, NOAA technical assistance has played a major role in developing capacity to meet the five main goals of the CTI-CFF Regional Plan of Action, one of which is "promoting an ecosystem approach to fisheries management". In particular, the NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, in collaboration with other NOAA offices, has played a major role in building capacity toward an ecosystem approach to fisheries management (EAFM) in the Coral Triangle and now, in partnership with USAID, is expanding the reach of these efforts throughout Southeast Asia.

Image adapted from FAO EAF Nansen Project.
Image adapted from FAO EAF Nansen Project.

What is an ecosystem approach to fisheries management?

For the past 20 years, approaches to fisheries management slowly evolved as it became clear that effective management of a fishery requires that targeted species cannot be considered in isolation of their environment and other influences. Relative to a focus on a single species or fisheries sector, an EAFM offers a far greater chance of developing management plans that are realistic, equitable, and sustainable. This approach provides a practical, participatory process with which to pursue sustainability by balancing ecological and human well-being through good governance.

Building capacity for an ecosystem approach

Although support for an EAFM has long been in place through a range of global declarations and policy instruments, progress toward the implementation of an EAFM at national and regional levels has been slow, partly because integrated management often requires new skills and increased capacity.

In recognition of the need for capacity development to promote the regional application of an EAFM, a number of multicountry initiatives are underway. One significant contribution is the "Essential Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management" (Essential EAFM) course, which was jointly developed by the Asia Pacific Fishery Commission, the Bay of Bengal Large Marine Ecosystem project, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN-FAO), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and NOAA.

These organizations, in collaboration with the U.S. Coral Triangle Initiative's Coral Triangle Support Partnership and training and education consultancy IMA International, have developed this five-day training course with an associated training-of-trainers component. This course focuses on the development of professional planning, analytical and interpersonal skills needed for well-structured and informed decision-making for fisheries management. This course provides in-depth knowledge of the EAFM process and how it can assist in decision-making for responsible and sustainable fisheries. For current and future fisheries managers, this course helps answer the following questions: "Why is an EAFM important?", "What is an EAFM?", and "How to implement an EAFM?".

Training course: Essential Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management (EAFM)

Photo courtesy of Jacob Asher.
Photo courtesy of Jacob Asher.
Sustainable Development:
"Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."
Photo courtesy of Megan Moews.
Photo courtesy of Megan Moews.

This course provides basic knowledge on the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management (EAFM) and how it can assist in the decision-making process for responsible and sustainable capture fisheries. The course is designed for staff members of fishery and environmental agencies, as well as related economic development and planning organizations, at the local, provincial, national, and regional levels, who are responsible for administration of fisheries and the marine environment in which they operate.

The need to apply an ecosystem approach to management of capture fisheries is now globally acknowledged, and the concept has been endorsed in international decision-making at events such as the Rio +20 conference in 2012. This approach represents a move away from fisheries management systems that focus only on the sustainable harvest of target species and toward systems and decision-making processes that balance environmental health with the interests of human populations and their well-being, all within improved frameworks for governance.

This Essential EAFM course provides participants with skills that will help them develop management plans that address current community needs for food security and livelihoods while protecting marine resources for the future.

This course will equip participants to:

  • Manage fisheries more holistically;
  • Reduce user group conflicts;
  • Help unlock financial resources;
  • Work cooperatively with other stakeholders; and
  • Better resolve fisheries issues and challenges.

Participants will learn about EAFM concepts and work with a template to develop a meaningful draft EAFM plan for their fishery. They will understand the principles of co-management and how to foster cross-sector coordination. Participants also will practice the crucial skills of effective communication, facilitation, and conflict management.

Course Structure

Photo courtesy of Rusty Brainard.
Photo courtesy of Rusty Brainard.

The starting point for this training course is an explanation of the need for an EAFM and what exactly is an EAFM. Then, participants learn about the different phases of an EAFM: 1) development of an EAFM plan, 2) implementation of that plan, and 3) monitoring the effects, evaluation, and adaptation of the EAFM.

Training Method

This course is designed to be highly participatory. To complement input from trainers, participants will work in pairs, in groups, and individually on exercises specifically designed to consolidate learning. The course is intended to be locally relevant, and trainers will try to provide real, local examples. This method of training also relies on input and active engagement from the course participants.

Learning and Feedback

Daily monitoring and reviews ensure that participant feedback is integrated into course design. Pre- and post-course assessment, as well as a quiz, enables trainers to determine how well participants are learning key EAFM concepts.

Course Materials

There are course materials for Participants and Trainers:

  1. Participant course materials (13.8 MB PDF)
  2. Trainer resource materials (16.7 MB PDF)
  3. Session presentations (12.4 MB PDF)
  4. Click here to download all course materials (38.7 MB ZIP).

The following software may be used to view the course materials:

After successfully completing this course, participants receive the Handbook and presentations on a CD or USB drive, together with any additional resources.