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Coastal Fisheries Initiative

@FAO/Petri Suuronen

Coastal fisheries are a critical source of livelihoods, food security and economic and social well-being for millions of people worldwide.

Yet, these resources face many challenges, including habitat destruction, pollution, climate change and exploitation at or beyond biological limits. This has resulted in the declining economic and social performance of coastal fisheries and threats to the marine ecosystems and biodiversity on which they depend. Compounding this situation is the poverty and marginalization experienced by many fisheries-dependent coastal communities, which often limits individual and collective capacity to engage in the sustainable management of natural resources and take part in development decisions.

Without systematic efforts to address these issues, the decline in the performance of key coastal fisheries is likely to continue in many parts of the world. This threatens the sector's present and future contributions to ocean health, food security, livelihoods and economic growth.

The Coastal Fisheries Initiative (CFI) has been developed to address these challenges by helping countries implement more holistic processes and approaches leading to sustainable use and management of fisheries in their Exclusive Economic Zones. A partnership of six organizations (Conservation International, FAO, UNDP, UNEP, World Bank, World Wildlife Fund), the CFI is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) within its framework for safeguarding the world oceans and the marine environment and in complement to the GEF multi-country Large-Marine Ecosystem (LME) approach.

The Initiative consists of five interlinked projects comprised of a combination of national and sub-regional projects in West Africa, Latin America and Indonesia (totaling six countries) and two cross-cutting projects. The Challenge Fund is a technical-assistance facility designed to help countries develop a pipeline of investable projects, benefiting both local and national economies. The Global Partnership is a mechanism for sharing experiences and furthering effective coastal fisheries management globally through collaboration and knowledge sharing of best practices and lessons learned across projects and beyond.

Project activities are centered on common elements such as integrating ecosystem-based management into fisheries policies, promoting marine protected areas, strengthening co-management and access-rights regimes, and advancing gender equality and livelihood security. CFI projects leverage existing, on-the-ground experience in fisheries governance and management, and engage stakeholders at all levels - from national governments, regional organizations and private-sector operators to small-scale fishers, processors and traders and their communities.