The South China sea project: Establishing a regional system of fisheries refugia
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Details are given of activities carried out within the framework of the UNEP/GEF project 'Reversing Environmental Degradation Trends in the South China Sea and Gulf of Thailand', considering in particular the integration of fisheries and habitat management through the establishment of a regional system of fisheries 'refugia'. This project is unique in that it represents the first attempt to develop regionally coordinated programmes of action designed to reverse environmental degradation, particularly in the areas of coastal habitat degradation and loss, halt land-based pollution and address the issue of fisheries over-exploitation. The key themes emerging from the fisheries component of the project relate to the important role that coastal and marine habitats of the Gulf of Thailand and South China Sea play in sustaining regional fisheries, and the general low level coordination between fisheries and environmental management in the region. The partner network created through this project provides an ideal basis for efforts to improve the integration of environmental and habitat considerations into regional fisheries management, and the project activity of establishing a regional system of fisheries 'refugia' aims to provide a conduit for this. This latter activity is being implemented in close collaboration with SEAFDEC. Countries participating in the project have a useful foundation for the identification and evaluation of approaches to fisheries management at both the national and regional level.