SFG team with community of fishers in the philippines

Fish Forever


Most small-scale fisheries lack the data needed to make informed management decisions. To empower coastal communities in the developing tropics to sustainably manage their own marine resources, we partnered with Rare and the Environmental Defense Fund on the global Fish Forever initiative. Fish Forever works to catalyze change across nearshore tropical fisheries and, to date, the program has been launched in the Philippines, Indonesia, Belize, Mozambique, and Brazil. 

Fish Forever works with fishing communities to create TURF-Reserves (Territorial User Rights for Fishing combined with no-take marine reserves), a spatial resource management strategy that combines the benefits of rights-based fisheries management and marine reserves. In order to maximize and sustain its impact, Fish Forever couples proven social marketing techniques with incentive- and science-based management approaches to motivate local pride in marine stewardship and support for TURF-Reserves. To support the Fish Forever initiative, we invested in research and development and tested a variety of approaches to identify the best strategies for successful and scalable TURF-Reserve design and management, helping ensure the long-term sustainability of small-scale fisheries around the world.


We developed a portfolio of novel tools that require less data to produce science-based recommendations. These tools include bioeconomic forecasting models for TURF-Reserve design and fisheries recovery, innovative approaches for adaptive fisheries assessment and management, and guidance on developing the kinds of monitoring and evaluation programs that are critical to effective fisheries management.

Key findings

We played a key role in the Fish Forever partnership, providing technical expertise in fisheries assessment and management, bioeconomic modeling, monitoring and evaluation, and developing toolkits and training resources. Our work supported several concrete, on-the-ground achievements, including:

  • Implementing a nationwide fisheries management framework for Belize's conch and lobster fisheries 
  • Developing the Adaptive Fisheries Assessment and Management Toolkit and Dashboard, and training tutorials which has now been used at campaign sites in Brazil, Indonesia, and the Philippines 
  • Creating fisheries assessment and management trainings with the Belize Fisheries Department, Brazilian Ministry of the Environment (ICMBio), and multiple Philippines municipalities
  • Developing an Online Interactive Data Visualization and Analytics Dashboard that updates in real-time as monitoring and evaluation data are collected across FF sites and can provide on-demand analytics to visualize and evaluate the global impact of FF
  • Synthesizing ecological, economic, and social monitoring and evaluation data from the first 41 campaign sites in Brazil, Indonesia, and the Philippines


Fish Forever is a collaborative effort between emLab (formerly the Sustainable Fisheries Group), Rare, Environmental Defense Fund, and dozens of in-country academic, governmental and NGO partners in Mozambique, Brazil, Philippines, Indonesia, and Belize.