© Jules Jal / WWF
Coastal Community-led Conservation
Communities take charge of ocean health
Coastal communities’ food and livelihoods – their very survival – are inextricably linked to the health of the ocean. Despite their importance to the conservation of marine and coastal ecosystems, communities continue to be overlooked in critical decision making. But where local people actively participate in the management of coastal resources, this management has been shown to be significantly more effective.
Ocean health and community well-being are two sides of the same coin – they cannot be separated.

Coastal communities and small-scale fishers have served as traditional stewards of coastal ecosystems for hundreds of years. Small-scale fisheries are central to solving many challenges, such as overfishing and habitat loss, and key to addressing poverty and hunger. 

Despite the importance of coastal resources to societies around the world, the contributions of coastal communities and small-scale fishers are still undervalued, underreported, and consequently overlooked in fisheries policy. 

WWF and our partners have decades of experience demonstrating successful community-led solutions to sustainable manage coastal and marine resources. However, as impressive and significant as these local successes are, they ultimately represent incremental progress. At this pace, we will not build the resilience of coastal communities and of the natural systems they depend upon.

The rapidly increasing impacts of climate change are exponentially compounding the threats to coastal habitats and communities. We need a global movement that can accelerate the implementation of successful coastal community-led conservation at the necessary scale. 

Coastal Communities Initiative

Measures of success
By 2030, coastal communities will be equipped with the skills, capacity and mandate to effectively manage the natural resources they depend upon. This in turn will help restore and protect critical marine and coastal habitats, develop livelihood opportunities and build climate change resilience.

RESTORE species essential to food security in coastal
communities, such as molluscs, crustaceans and reef fish

IMPROVE household nutrition in at least 300 communities (70,000 direct / 1.3 million indirect beneficiaries)

IMPLEMENT national policies that enshrine in law coastal communities' access to and management of coastal resources

EXPAND examples of successful, sustainable development projects through an international scaling network


Accelerating the Pace of Change

WWF and partners are working to amplify and accelerate the uptake of locally led solutions. The Coastal Communities Initiative, an international network of fishers, community associations and local authorities, is working to:

  • Expand solutions to 200 new communities across priority seascapes
  • Advocate policies that recognize communities’ role in the management of coastal resources and unlock funding
  • Create partnerships and learning hubs to enhance local knowledge and build expertise that stays in the community

© Jürgen Freund / WWF

Stories from the front line of ocean conservation

Coastal Community Stories
Superfood from the sea

“Blue food” describes fish and other food from the ocean and inland waters. This category spans luxury items like bluefin tuna and humble edible algae, such as sea grapes. Fish protein and aquatic plants are essential components in the diets of coastal communities. 

But blue or aquatic foods are often part of a "hidden harvest." Their value to human health and livelihoods is underreported or overlooked entirely.

It's time to change that. Earth’s remarkable ocean has fed humanity throughout the course of history. It can continue to do so, if we respect its limits.

WWF is proud to work with EDF, WorldFish, the Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions, Stockholm Resilience Centre and others to highlight the critical importance of aquatic foods. Download our shareable infographic.