Clean Fishing

Quick Facts

Project Objective

To evaluate and strengthen the scientific, environmental and commercial viability of the sustainable fishing model being promoted by Salvadoran fishing cooperatives.


2014-15 + 2019-22

  • Salvadoran community leaders
  • local fisherman
  • MARN
  • Real Good Fish

$15,000 USD


Clean Fishing (or Pesca Limpia) is the name given to the sustainable fishing practices employed by four fishing cooperatives on the Bay of Jiquilisco, in the Lower Lempa River region of southeastern El Salvador, a designated Biosphere Reserve and Wetlands of International Importance.

This grassroots movement is composed of local fishermen in the communities surrounding the town of Puerto Parada (Usulután Department), who only fish using traditional hook-line-and-sinker methods. Members of the cooperatives take turns monitoring the bay in 8-hour shifts to prevent the unsafe, destructive practice of blast fishing: the use of dynamite sticks thrown into the bay to “catch” the fish.

The catch brought in by artisanal practices is of better quality and tastes better, but a significant challenge for the cooperatives is developing viable market access and obtaining premium prices for their products, since they rely on intermediaries to sell their fish. Another major set of challenges is establishing solid scientific and regulatory frameworks for the use of artificial reefs which the co-ops have sunk into the bay in order to regenerate and increase fish populations.

Road Map

ECOPA’s Clean Fishing consultancy builds on the graduate studies done by Team El Salvador in 2014 and 2015, as well as subsequent research carried out by ECOPA with these communities.

A diverse team of fisheries experts and practitioners from the Monterey Bay area will engage with Salvadoran scientists of ICMARES (the Institute of Oceanography and Limnology at the University of El Salvador), officials of MARN (Salvadoran Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources), as well as the leadership of the fishing cooperatives and surrounding communities, in order to further assess and strengthen the environmental and socioeconomic viability of this artisanal fisheries model, by:

  • creating standardized best practices and establishing guidelines for legitimizing the use of artificial reefs;
  • further enhancing monitoring, evaluation and conflict resolution mechanisms;
  • assisting the co-ops in developing more sustainable marketing strategies, adapting practices utilized by an organization such as the California-based Real Good Fish Company;
  • providing additional data to help policy-makers counter the still prevailing, dangerous practice of blast fishing.


To quote from the work of Team El Salvador in 2015, “ultimately it is hoped that this artisanal method of fishing, which takes into account the well-being of its practitioners and the health of the ecosystem in which it is practiced, will receive national recognition, legitimacy and support as a viable model of sustainable stewardship.”

Next Steps

  • Assemble the identified 4-person team of Monterey Bay fisheries experts, and set dates for travel to the Bay of Jiquilisco region for exploratory dialogues and site visits with the Clean Fishing cooperatives ECOPA has worked with since 2014;
  • In-country, follow up on the studies and recommendations by previous ECOPA teams, particularly regarding viable marketing strategies and small-scale business development, utilizing as potential models the experiences of the Monterey Bay fisheries;
  • Setting up meetings with local government/ministry officials and scientists to analyze and strengthen the case for the use of artificial reefs to regenerate fish populations in the Bay of Jiquilisco.
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