Date of Award

Spring 5-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Ocean Science and Engineering

Committee Chair

Kim de Mutsert

Committee Chair School

Ocean Science and Engineering

Committee Member 2

Wei Wu

Committee Member 2 School

Ocean Science and Engineering

Committee Member 3

Zachary Darnell

Committee Member 3 School

Ocean Science and Engineering

Committee Member 4

Courtney Cox

Committee Member 5

Leslie Acton


Nearly 50% of all marine fish capture in the Philippines is from artisanal fisheries, most of which is un- or under-reported. As in many emerging nations around the world, the Philippines cannot fully address overfishing by managing only half of the catch that comes from commercial fisheries. Marine reserves are a popular governance strategy for conservation and of growing interest for fisheries management. Many marine reserves in the Philippines, however, are not considered effective. In 2014, Rare, an international NGO, implemented a community-based management program to increase the effectiveness of the marine reserves, and while it found biomass increased, there is still a need to link the governance strategy with the ecological results. Using data including Rare’s large database of dependent and independent fisheries data, interviews, and geospatial data, this dissertation seeks to understand how social and ecological systems are connected within the small-scale fisheries in the Philippines. Small-scale fishery management solutions are necessary to create a sustainable ecosystem of natural resources and those who use them, not only in the Philippines but worldwide. First, I used multivariate methods to determine if fish community structure and biodiversity changed with the implementation of community-based management. The results showed that there was variation between the sites, leading to questions about why this variation occurred and if it is due to ecological or societal differences. Next, I used GAMs to analyze different variables, including mangrove edge and area, to investigate ecological reasons for the differences in fish abundance and biodiversity. Finally, I conducted a thematic analysis of fisher interviews to understand the compliance and enforcement landscape. The results provide insights on how governance strategies influence marine resources and explains potential reasons why sites in the Philippines respond differently to the same governance strategy, thereby providing a holistic story of how community-based management of marine reserves in the Philippines function. My research builds on the empirical work that Rare has conducted and has recommendations for NGOs and managers for strategies that may increase the success of community-based managed marine reserves within the Philippines.