URI Leads Effort To Reform Commercial Fisheries in the Philippines

Apr 24, 2018

Researchers at the University of Rhode Island are leading a new project in the Philippines to increase the number of fish in their waters.


The Philippines is one of the biggest fish producing nations in the world. The U.S., for example, depends on the country for crab and tuna.

However, the majority of their fishing grounds are overfished, according to the Environmental Defense Fund, a U.S.-based environmental advocacy organization.

URI and other Filipino universities and organizations will be working throughout the next five years to develop better fishery management plans for municipalities.

Elin Torell, director for international programs at URI's Coastal Resources Center and the project's lead researcher, said the team will also work with people to change behaviors that degrade the coast, such as cutting down mangroves, which are small trees that grow in tropical coastal waters.

"When you cut down the mangroves you’re cutting down nursery grounds for fish, so if you reduce the habitats, you’re going to reduce the number of fish as well," Torell said.

Torell added it's important to address destructive fishing practices too, such as using dynamite to kill fish to make it easier to catch them.

"You kill everything, not just the fish that are of the size you might want for your market," Torell said.

Additional goals of the project include working with Filipino communities to make them more resilient to typhoons, which scientists say are expected to happen more frequently due to climate change, and involving women and other marginalized groups in fishery management.

The project is being funded by a $25 million federal grant – the largest in URI’s history.