SEASMART - Sustainable, Equitable, and Profitable Coastal Development

SEASMART is committed to establishing a sustainable, equitable, and profitable marine aquarium industry in the Philippines.
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Alex Rose
Environment
Alexandria, Virginia
United States
8 Team Members

Introduction

Have you ever seen a film documenting the extreme beauty and diversity of our coral reef ecosystems and wondered what you could do to ensure that these places stay healthy for future generations? Then you’ve come to the right page. Have you ever read an article about the devastation of the world’s reefs due to anthropogenic causes and wished you could do something to protect and restore what’s still there? Then you’ve clicked on the right link. Have you ever thought about the huge disparity in income between our citizens and the coastal citizens of less developed nations and wanted to help? Then you’re still in the right place. SEASMART gives us a global solution to these issues through sustainable coastal development strategies that can be applied anywhere on the planet that there are both people and water. Please be involved in starting this “sea change” with us in a place that’s considered the center of marine biodiversity: the Coral Triangle.

UPDATES

New picture files were added 10/14 showing our successful efforts on the ground in Mati, Philippines. We have already made great progress with the IndieGoGo funds deposited directly into our PayPal account, so thank you all for making this happen! SEASMART represents a new and better way of life for many of these people, and they're excited to start training and collecting. Stay tuned for more exciting updates!

NEW VIDEO FROM MAGUM IS UP! 10/15

Goal

The immediate goal of SEASMART is to transform the marine aquarium trade, first in the Philippines and then on an international scale. This industry right now is predominately a high volume, low value, price driven industry with little regard for fishers or for the environment. SEASMART is capable of changing this.  It is our intention to help transform the marine aquarium trade into a force for the global conservation, restoration and sustainable use of the world’s precious coral reefs. SEASMART will help to lay the ecosystem, resource and community-based management foundations for the sustainable use of all fisheries within a management area further expanding SEASMART’s management and marketing benefits at little additional cost.

Without the adoption of sustainable management systems put in place through a transformative process, many reef spawning grounds will be harmed beyond repair, fishers and their coastal communities will decline further economically, and the purchasing public will have access to fewer, less affordable fish. Your funding support will permit EcoEZ SEASMART to take its Papua New Guinea pilot to the next level. With this proposed Stage 2 project, SEASMART will scale up its tested methodologies and evaluation systems as it seeks high rates of adoption by fishers. The initiative will provide guidance and affirmation that the SEASMART approach is replicable, is scalable, and can have global positive economic and environmental impacts.  SEASMART Marine Aquarium Life is Sustainable, Equitable, Profitable, and Affordable.

Our main project objectives are to: 

1) protect and sustainably manage reefs through a public-private sector approach to the marine aquarium trade;

2) enable historically marginalized fisher households to earn substantially higher incomes through first-time ownership and management of their marine aquarium trade;

3) improve awareness and demand for ecofriendly branded marine aquarium practices and products; and

4)  supply affordable, healthy marine aquarium fish and corals to consumers.

Some of our anticipated results
 are:

1) widespread adoption of ecologically sustainable fish and coral harvesting best practices via coastal communities ownership;

2) sustainable SEASMART management systems are operational and succeeding;

3) increased number of hectares of marine habitat, number of species of marine life, and hectares of protected areas under management;  

4) marine aquarium buyers expand purchases of SEASMART-sourced marine aquarium life; and

5) substantially higher incomes among primary beneficiaries (fishers, coral farmers, and reef restorers) and secondary beneficiaries (packers, trainers, drivers)

Please join us on this adventure to one of the most beautiful and diverse places on earth in an effort to protect, conserve, and restore these irreplaceable coral reef habitats, usher in a new way of life for these coastal peoples along with a higher standard of living, and bring a much-needed paradigm shift to the concept of true sustainability. We look forward to bringing a sustainable, equitable, and profitable marine aquarium trade to the Philippines and hope that our collective goals develop into a successful partnership that we feel is waiting just beneath the waves.

Why are Coral Reefs so Important?

The Coral Triangle (CT) covers approximately 2.3 million square miles of ocean and encompasses six countries in the Indo-Pacific: Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, the Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste. An unbelievable amount of biodiversity is condensed into less than 1% of the world's ocean surface area: The CT is home to one-third of the world’s coral reefs, 75% of known coral species (~600 species of corals), nearly 3,000 species of fish, half of the world’s seagrass and marine mollusk species, 75% of known mangrove species, six of the world’s seven species of marine turtles, and more than 22 species of marine mammals. We would like to focus our attention on the most northern point of this triangle, the Philippines, a place that, according to leading authorities in the taxonomy world, contains “the center of the center of marine biodiversity”.

Why did SEASMART choose the Philippines for Stage 2 Expansion?

The Philippines is comprised of 7, 107 islands and is a place of remarkable diversity and immeasurable importance that is considered top priority for conservation along with the Amazon, Arctic, Galapagos Islands and Madagascar. SEASMART proposes to help conserve this oasis of life by sustainably developing a trade that this place is uniquely equipped to support: the marine aquarium trade.  The SEASMART program will operate in the Philippines with the sole agenda of developing a sustainable, equitable, and profitable marine aquarium trade that would benefit all involved. SEASMART would give coastal inhabitants the opportunity to abandon destructive fishing practices such as fishing with dynamite and cyanide that yield immediate but detrimental results, for a livelihood that fosters sustainable development and proper management of an immeasurably important natural resource. 

Why is the Marine Aquarium Trade Important to the Future of the World’s Coral Reefs?

UNEP estimates that global trade in marine aquarium fish and coral is $200-330 million annually, mostly in sales to some 2 million marine aquarium owners primarily in the U.S. and Europe. The trade provides income for tens of thousands of local fishers and a substantial source of foreign exchange to poor countries, yet fishers are routinely exploited and their environments are often degraded beyond repair. Most marine aquarium organisms are not harvested sustainably or in ways that benefit local communities, fishers or buyers. 

What are the Problems that SEASMART Fixes?

In the Philippines and Indonesia, where 85% of the world's supply of live products are sourced, most exporters and wholesalers have little regard for coastal communities or interest in sound environmental stewardship. Local fishers are paid little and have virtually no ownership, control, or say in an industry that is characterized by a high loss rate from collection methods that employ cyanide and other chemicals to stun fish for capture. The U.S. and Europe may ban imports unless fish and coral are proven to be from sustainably managed sources. If bans are imposed, the result would be economic catastrophe for local fishers and their communities. The importing countries are concerned over the lack of science-based fishery area management plans, destructive fishing practices, and trade in endangered species.

Without sound reef management, the very resource needed to sustain the trade and produce fair prices and income for fishers, could be depleted permanently. SEASMART strives to ensure that this fate does not befall the world’s coral reefs. The marine aquarium trade can be managed in economically sustainable and environmentally sound ways as a supplier of healthy fish and coral to consumers. UNEP claims that the marine aquarium trade has the highest potential to provide sustainable resource management and economic prosperity to coastal communities.

When ecosystems are protected and managed properly, the marine life proliferates and monetary value is added to an area, making it even more desirable to conserve. Investing in SEASMART offers a unique opportunity to drive global change starting with the marine aquarium trade. This trade faces growing threats to its future, and the SEASMART program is truly a force for the global conservation, protection, and sustainable use of the world’s coral reefs and associated ecosystems.

EcoEZ's SEASMART approach overcomes destructive imbalances in the trade's value chain through branded, innovative, practical solutions. Its Papua New Guinea SEASMART pilot improved protection of reefs through a profit-driven approach: incomes rose among first-time ownership by historically marginalized households and demand for ecofriendly marine practices and products also grew. Further testing can show widespread impact, scalability and replicability. SEASMART fish are healthy and sustainably caught with no chemicals using only hand nets, providing customers confidence that their fish are collected, handled and shipped in accordance with best practices through the efforts of fisher-owners and dedicated exporters such as our partner company, SeaStrong.

How Will We Accomplish these Goals?

SEASMART’s mission is to establish a marine aquarium fishery in the Philippines that is sustainable, equitable, and profitable and we can do this with the implementation of five key program components: Resource Assessment & Management (RAM), Management Area Planning (MAP), Fisher and Fishery Development (FFD), Mariculture, Aquaculture & Restoration (MAR), and SeaStrong (Export and Branding). Each one of these components is integral to the development of Fishery Management Areas (FMAs), geographically defined and resource mapped coastal marine areas whose boundaries are determined by traditional local community resource ownership or local government boundaries. 

Sustainability is an absolute necessity for the success of a marine aquarium trade in the Philippines and all five of these components can make it a reality. SEASMART’s RAM programing has the ability to provide vital information on the abundance of a FMA’s marine aquarium resources, as well as data on food fish species, and the health of each FMA’s marine ecosystems. Our MAP development process results in a plan capable of growth and change depending on the current needs of an area, and is an essential step towards ensuring the sustainable management of fish stocks and reef health.  SEASMART’s FFD programming provides fishers and fisher communities training in correct fishing, holding, handling, and husbandry techniques and management. Our MAR programming is primarily an activity run by women that provides coral farmer training in coral cultivation methods and reef restoration, and is worth half of the trade’s potential value. SeaStrong programming provides the necessary organism traceability, husbandry, shipping, and marketing needed to maintain the SEASMART goal of a less than 1% organism mortality rate, an extremely low number considering the industry average is between 15-35%. All these components will ensure that the Philippines’ priceless natural resources are protected, conserved, and restored where necessary.

We are dividing our funding efforts into two phases in order to better manage the immediate v. future needs of the SEASMART project by ensuring that each need is met in the necessary order.

Phase One:  Site Preparation - $75,000

  • Resource Assessment & Management (RAM)

The RAM component conducts the resource assessment of applicant FMA communities; coordinates and trains fishers and locals on resource management; produces Total Allowable Catch (TAC) values for every marine aquarium species surveyed; coordinates with Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) GIS personnel on FMA mapping; evaluates potential sites; provides data to TRADE Management database; identifies suggested no-take areas; and develops FMA site-specific “non suitable species” or “no-take” lists for endangered, rare, dangerous, or inappropriate species. Inappropriate species are those that don’t do well in captivity or shipping, eat corals, or have living requirements that make them unsuitable for aquarium living.

  • Management Area Planning (MAP)

The MAP component leads the development of an FMA community’s Management Area Plan; coordinates with all SEASMART Divisions to ensure implementation of site assessment recommendations; coordinates and trains local FMA MAP Committees; assists in MAP certification process; coordinates implementation of certification corrective action plans with regards to MAP development; and monitors and evaluates potential sites for future selection.

  • Fisher & Fishery Development (FFD)

The FFD component provides fisher skills training and extension in marine aquarium organism identification, habitat, lifecycle, capture, handling, holding, husbandry and transport; ecosystem conservation and harvest area rotation; fisheries management planning and implementation; Fisher Training and Extension Manual development and adaption; fisher association development and management; and fisher preparation for Marine Aquarium Council (MAC) or equivalent certification.

  • Mariculture, Aquaculture and Restoration (MAR)

The MAR component provides fisher skills training and extension on in situ cultivation of coral species primarily to women that allows them to have a major role in generating income for their families. Different methodologies of coral cultivation are trialed including methods that also act as vehicles for reef restoration such as the use of low cost, community produced Coral & Fish Aggregation Devices (CFADs). The focus will be on producing market quality corals with fairly easy reach of the coral-farming managers (primarily community women).

 

Phase Two: SeaStrong - $75,000

  • Export Facility Development (EFD)

The EFD component supports the development of export facilities including screening, transport, holding, handling, husbandry, packing, and shipping as well as promotion and marketing assistance for the export of product.

  • Smart Business Development (SBD)

The SBD component provides fisher skills training and extension in small business development; personal financial management training; fisher banking and bank account set-up (paperless and cashless payment system); and support for application to lending institutions and Government managed development funds in support of their marine aquarium fishing activities.

  • TRADE Management Database-Traceability Systems

The TMD component supports the development and implementation of TRADE Management Software ensuring all product traceability mechanisms are functional and robust.

 

And a few notes on donation:

We have a lot of great perks that you can buy, but there is of course always the option of buying the perk just for the sake of donating to our cause. If you don’t feel like you want/need any of the items you bought, we certainly won’t be offended. Donating just because you truly believe in something is probably the greatest reward of all. We also don’t expect everyone to be able to donate, but if you think you know someone who would be interested in our campaign, please tell them about us!

If you decide to contribute and you do it via PayPal, you will see that you'll be transferred to the site of a sister organization, Panda Mountain (they love corals too!). Rest assured that your funds will be going to us at SEASMART; we are currently sharing a PayPal page with them becasue it's easier for both of us. Also, if you use PayPal instead of a credit card, the funds are availbale to us quickly. The Team wants to start work right away, and you make this possible by paying through PayPal.

If you happen to be a marine aquarium hobbyist or industry contributor, we are offering the option of converting your real dollars and perks into “fish dollars”. 25% of the money you donate over $50 could be “redeemed” and essentially converted into fish purchases as animals become available over the next year.

 

 

 

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Select a Perk
  • $10USD
    Thanks!

    A personalized thank you email from us along with JPG photos of some of the many beautiful creatures native to the marine world of the Philippines and Papua New Guinea.

    13 claimed
  • $25USD
    Share Photos

    A personalized thank you email, JPG photos of Philippines and Papua New Guinea reef creatures and the option to send a friend a collage of our images.

    5 claimed
  • $50USD
    Share the Philippines

    A personalized thank you email, JPG photos of Philippines and Papua New Guinea reef creatures and a set of two SEAMSART posters. OR If you happen to be a marine aquarium hobbyist or industry contributor, we are offering the option of converting your real dollars and perks into “fish dollars”. 25% of the money you donate over $50 could be “redeemed” and essentially converted into fish purchases as animals become available over the next year.

    9 claimed
  • $100USD
    Wear and Share

    A personalized thank you email, JPG photos of Philippines and Papua New Guinea reef creatures, a set of four SEASMART posters.

    5 claimed
  • $200USD
    Wear and Share Plus

    All of the above plus a vintage MACNA 2010 t-shirt. Very cool!

    2 claimed
  • $500USD
    Learn SEASMART

    All of the above along with a beautiful fullsize (3-4’ tall) Official SEASMART Field Training Vertebrate or Invertebrate Poster.

    1 claimed
  • $750USD
    Tools of the Trade

    This money will go towards the maintenance of existing collection gear and the purchase of new necessary gear, essentially ensuring that we have the needed “tools of the trade”. We’d love to send you a t-shirt, a set of posters, a set of two replica training posters, a personalized thank you email, and JPG photos of Philippines and Papua New Guinea reef creatures too.

    0 claimed
  • $1,000USD
    Building the Future

    This contribution will be used to build our in-sea holding and screening pens for all the beautiful creatures collected in the Philippines. We’d love to send you a t-shirt, a set of posters, a set of four replica training posters, a personalized thank you email, and JPG photos of Philippines and Papua New Guinea reef creatures, and postcards too.

    0 claimed
  • $4,000USD
    SEASMART Hero

    You will get a t-shirt, set of advertising posters, plus a set of four beautiful SEASMART canvas training posters. You will also get the most definitive and complete set of identification books out there, the Humann and Deloach Tropical Pacific Fish, Creature, and Coral ID books. We'd also like to set up a video chat with you to thank you on a more personal level and to get your thoughts on SEASMART. And we will love you forever!

    0 claimed
  • $7,500USD
    Dive with SEASMART

    This will be a very personalized option that we will develop with you that will involve staying with us for a minimum of 2 weeks (as your and our schedules permit) and can involve SCUBA training, dive gear, underwater photography lessons, or a whole variety of topside options as well. You’ll really get to know the “fintastic” people who live and work here, and you might not want to go home. And we will love you forever!

    0 claimed
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