The Fisheries Policy

Evaluation Document | 31 May 2006

This evaluation assesses the extent to which the ADB fisheries policy (1997) guides and influences the design and implementation of ADB-assisted projects and technical assistance grants.

This study was designed to

  • assess the extent to which the Asian Development Bank's (ADB) fisheries policy (1997) guides and influences the design and implementation of ADB-assisted projects and technical assistance (TA) grants
  • review the objectives of the fisheries policy and the outcomes of ADB assistance in fisheries
  • assess the relevance of the fisheries policy to ADB operations, taking into account major global and regional fisheries policy development initiatives in fisheries
  • review trends in ADB assistance to fisheries before and after the adoption of the fisheries policy
  • provide recommendations for future ADB action on the fisheries policy

ADB's fisheries operations are concentrated in three countries: Indonesia, Philippines, and Sri Lanka, which collectively account for 61% of the total amount of fisheries loans. As of 31 December 2005, fisheries loans amounted to only 1.2% of ADB's cumulative total lending. Only 14 of a total of 68 fisheries projects were approved in the 8 years after the fisheries policy was adopted in 1997, with cumulative loans of $305 million (22% of the total fisheries loan portfolio of $1.4 billion).

Key findings

  • Based on the four dimensions of evaluation (relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, and sustainability), the evaluation rated the fisheries policy unsuccessful. The fisheries policy did not make a significant difference in guiding ADB-financed operations in fisheries. It was only partly relevant to the design and implementation of ADB-assisted fisheries projects and TA, and to the internal policy context of ADB. With the evolution of global and regional policy initiatives in fisheries, emerging issues, and contemporary challenges, the fisheries policy has become redundant.
  • Designs of projects and TAs after adoption of the policy were generally influenced by lessons identified from predecessor projects, emerging regional and global trends in natural resources management, international and domestic policy instruments, priorities of developing member countries (DMCs), country strategies and programs, and related ADB policies.
  • The fisheries policy is rated as less effective in achieving its objectives. Several deficiencies in the fisheries policy worked against its adoption as a policy guide, the most striking being the absence of an accompanying set of approaches for the management of fisheries and aquatic resources, lack of safeguard provisions in the broader context of natural resources management, absence of clear strategies for responsible management of inland fisheries, and lack of guidance on how intersectoral integration should proceed.
  • Policy implementation is rated as less efficient primarily due to the absence of (i) staff guidelines or operations manual to support policy application, implementation, and enforcement; and (ii) a monitoring framework for policy implementation.
  • The fisheries policy is unlikely to be sustainable. Although the policy was farsighted when it was prepared, it was rapidly superseded by external policy initiatives, and rendered outdated by the emergence of contemporary issues and challenges due to dynamic developments in fisheries, as well as the changing and limited demand for ADB assistance in fisheries. A revised fisheries policy would not add value in the fisheries policy arena. ADB's Medium-Term Strategy II (2006-2008) [ PDF ] further categorizes fisheries into Group III (sectors/subsectors with limited demand for ADB services, and in which ADB's performance has not been strong), recommended for gradually winding up.


  • Within 12 months, ADB should retire its fisheries policy;
  • ADB should develop a plan for handling the existing ADB operations in the fishery sector taking into account the following:
    • emphasize development and management approaches that adhere to principles for responsible fisheries
    • refer to fisheries policy instruments of regional organizations
    • assess ADB's in-house capacity to administer and service the current ADB assistance in the fishery sector
    • develop strategic partnerships with international institutions with expertise in the fisheries sector
  • ADB should reclassify its assistance to aquaculture and include it under agriculture sector development, given that aquaculture is generally regarded as a form of farming and should be considered as part of agriculture rather than fisheries.


  • Executive Summary
  • I. Introduction
  • II. Global, Regional, and Sector Contexts
  • III. The Fisheries Policy
  • IV. Asian Development Bank Assistance to Fisheries
  • V. The Fisheries Policy and Other Policies and Strategies
  • VI. The External Policy Context
  • VII. Emerging Issues and Management Responses
  • VIII. Overall Assessment of the Fisheries Policy and Recommendations
  • Appendixes