Fishing for success

Diving into CARE’s work with fisheries, aquaculture, coastal ecosystems protection, and water resource management. 

“Storms are like war,” explains Ms. Din as she talked about how a severe typhoon destroyed her community, coastline, fields, crops, and livestock. She sees the importance of protecting the coastline from increasingly severe storms, and that sustainable resource management is inextricably tied to strong management of coastal and freshwater fisheries, in part because poverty creates additional pressures on natural resources. This is something she’s thought more about as a participant in CARE’s Building Coastal Resilience in Vietnam program.

Across the world in Egypt, Sabah, a retailer in CARE Egypt’s STREAMS project told CARE, “Today we are working hand in hand, buying in bulk, negotiating prices together, and sharing the risk that each of us faces every day in the market.” Sabah has been saving money with her savings group that she joins with other women retailers.

The story of these women sounds quite different, but they are both part of CARE programs that focus on fisheries, aquaculture, coastal ecosystems protection, and water resource management. This body of work recognizes that sustainable, productive, profitable, equitable, resilient and healthy ecosystems, fish stocks and species are also key to marine and terrestrial ecosystems and biodiversity. Protecting watershed and fishery ecosystems allows for income generation, food and nutrition security, and protection from increasingly frequent extreme climate change events such as hurricanes and storm surges, and longer-term trends such as salination.

Fish and aquatic foods provide critical food and nutrition security to many communities. They provide healthy fats and proteins. Thus, the ability to sustainably hatch, care for and harvest fish and other aquaculture products is essential for many ecosystems, economies and households.

The exact number of people reached through CARE’s broad aquaculture work isn’t known, but CARE works across the globe to support sustainable fisheries and coastal resilience shows promising results.


  • In Mozambique, CARE and WWF worked to address overfishing and to empower citizens, resulting in the first nature reserve in Mozambique that recognizes the rights of communities to management and use natural resources. The diversity of fish species at least tripled, and program communities increased dietary diversity by 25%.
  • CARE Egypt’s STREAMS project found that for every $1 invested in a program to improve aquaculture value chains, there was a return of $5.68, and at the end of the program, that 49% more women believed that both men and women should have equal say in decisions.
  • In Benin, all VSLAs that were trained on fish production started second, third, and additional rounds of fish farming, and those same VSLA groups reinvested their profits to purchase 15,500 fingerlings without any external financial support.
  • As part of Building Coastal Resilience in Vietnam, Community-based Mangrove Management Boards and youth Green Teams were used together to promote coastal protection teams to help communities cope with the impacts of storms and coastal protection.
  • In Partners for Resilience in the Philippines, CARE focused on rebuilding equitable livelihoods and restoring coastal areas using Seaweed Farmers’ Associations.
  • CARE Ghana’s Far Ban Bo program worked through partners to strengthen civil society for sustainable fisheries management and allies fishers in Fishery Associations.

Streams of success

  • Community-based Natural Resources Committees and Community Fishing Councils. Programs that formalize structures to empower communities to protect natural resources and fisheries are better able to elevate community voices to higher levels of dialogue and decision making. Thoughtful inclusion of women in leadership and other roles is fundamental.
  • Connecting women fishers, farmers and retailers to savings groups. It’s no secret – VSLAs are effective platforms to catalyze community action while building financial resilience.
  • Diversify aquaculture. Involving women in diverse aquaculture value chains, such as seaweed and abalone farming, creates market value and economic resilience.
  • Work in Partnership. CARE joined WWF’s Coral Reef Initiative, and works with local governments, conservation organizations, and fishers to effectuate change.
  • Connect climate resilience to health ecosystems and fisheries. Coral reef degradation, salination, flooding, storm surges and other climatic events are damaging ecosystems, fisheries and livelihoods. Connecting them together, and to CARE’s Climate Justice work, is vital for long term ecological and income sustainability.