Transforming the Management of Marine and Coastal Resources in the Coral Triangle

Geographical location:

Asia/Pacific > Asia General

Asia/Pacific > Pacific Ocean > Fiji
Asia/Pacific > Pacific Ocean > Solomon Islands
Asia/Pacific > Pacific Ocean > Vanuatu
Asia/Pacific > Southeast Asia > Indonesia
Asia/Pacific > Southeast Asia > Malaysia
Asia/Pacific > Southeast Asia > Philippines

The Coral Triangle Boundary
© Coral Geographic (Veron et al. unpublished data)


The Coral Triangle Region is defined as the exclusive economic zones of Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste as well as Fiji and Vanuatu.

This 5-year project aims to improve the management of biologically and economically important coastal-marine resources and associated ecosystems that support the livelihood of people and economies in the Coral Triangle. The project will be led by The Coral Triangle Support Programme (CTSP), a consortium of environmental NGOs comprising WWF, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and Conservation International (CI) working in partnership with a range of government and private sector partners.


The region known as The Coral Triangle (CT) is a geological nexus located along the equator at the confluence of the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans, where tectonic plates of Asia, Australia and the Pacific collide. It is the planet’s richest known centre of marine biological diversity. There are over 3,000 species of fish, 500 coral species and many other marine resources provide a principal source of food, livelihoods and export revenues in all the CT countries.

Due to its unique biological richness and geography, the CT also sits at a crossroads of rapidly expanding populations, economic growth and international trade, all factors important for regional economic and political security. Together the 6 archipelagic countries of the CT (Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, the Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste ) account for some 363 million people, or 5.4% of the world’s population, in only 2% of the world’s land area. A third of these people are directly dependent upon marine resources for their sustenance and livelihoods. The islands are also home to a remarkable diversity of cultures and ethnic groups with more than 2,000 languages spoken across the 6 countries.

The CT holds the spawning areas for the highly valued northern Pacific and Southern Bluefin tunas, as well as the spawning and nursery grounds of 4 commercially important species of tunas that populate the Pacific and Indian Oceans – yellowfin, albacore, bigeye and skipjack. In combination, these oceans supply almost 90% of all global tuna harvest, including half of the world’s canned tuna and one-third of the Japanese sashimi market. The Pacific tuna fisheries alone are valued in excess of USD 2 billion per year.

Tunas, live reef fish and shrimp, generate millions of dollars annually for the region, feeding a seemingly insatiable demand in Japan, the US, Europe, China and elsewhere, and contributing significantly to the economic well-being of the coastal communities in the CT.

However, this wealth of marine resources is at risk. Many of the 120 million people directly dependent upon marine resources are living at subsistence levels in often impoverished coastal communities lacking basic social services. The ravenous demands of global markets for seafood combined with availability of new fishing technologies are now exposing once sustainable small-scale fisheries to overharvesting and destructive fishing practices. Rapidly growing populations are intensifying resource exploitation, pollution, sedimentation and unsustainable coastal development. Climate change with its sea level rise, warmer waters and ocean acidification can only complicate and exacerbate these threats. Awareness of these needs is growing – from local fishermen acknowledging declining stocks, to national governments collaborating regionally, to international donors and industry increasing their investments in the region.

Since September 2007 the CTI has developed a remarkable momentum. The 6 governments are working to finalize a CTI Plan of Action and the donor community has resoundingly supported these efforts with early substantial commitments by the US Government, Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Given the confluence of political will and international funding, as well as the focus on synergistic efforts across such a vast region, a staggering opportunity exists to effect truly transformational conservation outcomes and livelihood benefits.


The focus is on the 5 conservation themes laid out in the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) Plan of Action:
- seascapes;
- ecosystem-based fisheries management;
- marine protected areas;
- climate change; and
- threatened species.


A critical feature in the evolution of the CTI has been a partnership that gradually coalesced in support of CT conservation. In 2002, the 3 NGO Consortium partners prepared a joint CT proposal and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to collaborate on marine conservation. WWF, and later CI, supported the development of the SSME/Sulu Sulawesi seascape with its partners. By 2007, the ADB and the GEF joined forces to make the CTI one of their flagship programmes. At every step of the process, this loose coalition of CT supporters has collaborated closely to align their plans, share information, synchronize schedules and coordinate visions in order to present the most efficient and effective support structure possible for the CTI.
The consortium will compile a consolidated summary and timeline for all of the planned meetings, assessments, and studies, including their costs and expected contributions to the subsequent action. This summary can at the same time serve as a tool to convince people of the purpose of these activities while also perhaps allowing for the culling or delaying of those meetings, assessments and studies that were not highest priority. This information will also be useful for coordination with other donors (e.g. the USAID Integrator, GEF/ADB), to avoid duplication and overlaps.

This project will support the goal of the CTI: “By 2013, improved management of biologically and economically important coastal-marine resources and associated ecosystems that support the livelihoods of peoples and economies in the Coral Triangle.”

The CTSP aims to bring about these results:
- Develop thinking by decision-makers (public and private sectors) to apply a longer-term time horizon to decision-making and to view effective marine and coastal resources management as a pillar of sustainable economic growth and development.
- Show vertically integrated impacts through the links between project components at different implementation levels: regional, national, transboundary, and local.
- Galvanize the most influential agents of change, such as government leaders at all levels, industry leaders, and local community leaders.
- Inject urgency into the debate in order to accelerate action and raise awareness value using scenario tools, media strategies, effective spokespersons and other activities.
- Reform the economic drivers, policies and laws to address sustainability (e.g., perverse fisheries sector subsidies, demand for sustainably caught/produced fish, penalty systems around illegally-traded threatened species, relevant trade agreements, sustainable funding for MPA networks, sustainable alternative livelihoods, national accounting systems.
- Strengthen governance and community engagement and support at every relevant level.
- Build powerful multi-stakeholder coalitions around joint visions at every level where action is needed.
- Enhance capacities of all major actors, including regional and national NGOs, to participate in the new context catalyzed by the CTI.

Main approaches are facilitative partnerships, consultative process and capacity building.

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