Main Issue

Fish provide 4.3 billion people with about 15 percent of their animal protein and essential nutrients for growth and maternal health. Coastal fisheries — defined as all fisheries within exclusive economic zones (EEZ) — provide food, nutrition and livelihoods, particularly in developing countries.

But coastal marine ecosystems are subject to intense pressures. Globally, close to 30 percent of the world’s assessed marine fish stock is overexploited. The vast majority of overexploited fisheries are in developing coastal states and island nations. This threatens the livelihoods, food security and nutrition of many poorer population groups.

Marine fisheries employ more than 60 million people, including both fishers and postharvest jobs. Some 85 percent are small-scale fishers and fish workers primarily operating in coastal waters in developing countries. Women, particularly in the postharvest sector, represent about half of the people employed in capture fisheries and aquaculture. Coastal fisheries contribute about 85 percent of the roughly 80 million tonnes/year produced by marine capture fisheries. 

Global bycatch has been estimated to be 38.5 million tonnes, representing over 40 percent of total catches. It contributes significantly to overfishing, threats to non-target species, and where discarded, to post-harvest losses.

What We Do

Through the Coastal Fisheries Initiative (CFI), the GEF supports environmentally, economically and socially sustainable use and management of coastal fisheries. This complements the GEF’s multi-country large marine ecosystem (LME) approach. The CFI focuses on:

Policy: Strengthening the fisheries sector’s policy, legal and regulatory frameworks to incorporate environmental, social and economic sustainability considerations

Capacity: Improving the capacity and capability of fishing nations, regional management bodies and empowering communities in sustainable management of fisheries

Partnerships: Promoting public-private partnerships that enable responsible investment along the supply chain, fostering sustainable fisheries and sustainable development.

The CFI targets six countries in three geographies, representing various dimensions of the challenges facing coastal fisheries of global importance: Indonesia (two Fisheries Management Areas in the eastern part of the country); Ecuador and Peru (Latin America); Cabo Verde, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal (West Africa). 

The CFI addresses an important barrier to sustainable coastal fisheries governance and management: the limited integration between governments, and development and environmental groups working in the sector. It helps these stakeholders look at different ways to approach different situations. It then brings this new knowledge to the international arena for replication, as appropriate. 

The CFI supports a policy and institutional environment that establishes incentives for users to manage their resources more effectively. It also enables countries to adopt holistic and integrated tools to enhance governance, and evaluate and track fisheries performance.

The program helps safeguard globally important coastal ecosystems (such as coral reefs, sea grass beds and mangroves) and species and genetic diversities of coastal fisheries’ resources. Moving coastal fisheries to more sustainable levels will generate additional co-benefits of global importance. Furthermore, the positive impacts on coastal fisheries through the CFI may also remove some stress on terrestrial biodiversity resources.

Finally, effective coastal fisheries management will support greenhouse gas sequestration; coastal ecosystems such as salt marshes, sea grass beds and mangroves absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide and contribute to the world’s carbon fixation and carbon storage.