Sulu Celebes Sea Sustainable Fisheries Management

What is the project about?

The Sulu-Celebes Sea (SCS) is a large marine ecosystem in the tropical seas of Asia bounded by three countries—Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Being at the heart of the most bio-diverse marine area in the world, the SCS is also a very rich fishing ground for large and small pelagic as well as bay and coral reef fishes, providing livelihoods to the coastal inhabitants and food for the entire region and beyond. The fishery sources, however, have declined due to various threats including, overexploitation, habitat and community modification, and global climate change.

The goal of the project is to have economically and ecologically sustainable marine fisheries in SCS, for the benefit of communities who are dependent on these resources for livelihood and the global community who benefit in the conservation of highly marine ecosystems and its ecosystem services. The objective of the Project is to improve the condition of the fisheries and their habitats in the SCS through an integrated, collaborative, and participatory management at the local, national, and tri-national levels.

The three countries, and other stakeholders, including NGOs, have worked together to develop the Sulu-Sulawesi Marine Eco-region Conservation Plan and formally put in place a regional institutional mechanism to implement the plan. The project activities, outcomes, and outputs will build on these strong regional and national initiatives.

The following are the five major outcomes of the project:

  1. Achievement of a regional consensus on trans-boundary priorities and their immediate and root cause by updating an earlier Trans-boundary Diagnostic Analysis for the SCS and focusing on unsustainable exploitation of fisheries;
  2. Agreement on regional measures for improved fisheries management through coordination in the formulation of a Strategic Action Program, which will build on the existing Eco-region Conservation Plan;
  3. Strengthening of institutions and introduction of reforms to catalyze implementation of policies on reducing overfishing and improving fisheries management. The primary target for institutional strengthening is the Sulu-Sulawesi Marine Eco-region Tri-National Committee and its sub-committees, in particular the Sub-committee on Sustainable Fisheries;
  4. Increased fish stocks of small pelagic through the implementation of best fisheries management practices in demonstration sites; and
  5. Capture, application, and dissemination of knowledge, lessons, and best practices within the SCS and other Large Marine Ecosystems (LMEs).

What have we accomplished so far?

The updating of the Trans-boundary Diagnostic Analysis for the Sulu Celebes Sea has been completed in March 2012. The study looked at the immediate and root causes of unsustainable exploitation of fisheries in the region, and outlined trans-boundary priorities to address the problem. The findings of the analysis were endorsed by the Sub-committee on Sustainable Fisheries of the Tri-national Committee of the Sulu-Sulawesi Marine Eco-region Conservation Plan on its 6th Annual Meeting in March 2012 in Tawau, Sabah, Malaysia.

Building on this diagnostic analysis and the Eco-region Conservation Plan, the Project has begun the formulation of the Strategic Action Program, which outlines regional measures for improved fisheries management in the region. The process is being developed through Conservation International – Philippines, with consultations in all three countries, and with guidance from GEF: IWLEARN.


Total project budget from 2010 to 2014.

Donor name Amount contributed
Global Environment Facility USD 2,890,000.00

Delivery in previous fiscal year

2012 USD 1,554,500.92

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