Pacific eyes improved coastal fishery management
Pacific fisheries experts look to ways to co-ordinate community based schems to manage coastal fisheries.
Fisheries experts from around the Pacific are meeting this week in New Caledonia to co-ordinate community based programmes for managing the region's coastal fisheries.
The director of the coastal fisheries and aquaculture programme at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Lindsay Chapman, says attempts to use Western approaches to fisheries management, have failed.
The meeting includes marine scientists, natural resource manager, researcher, community fishers and NGOs from 24 Pacific countries and territories.
Don Wiseman asked Mr Chapman about the importance of the coastal fisheries to the Pacific.
LINDSAY CHAPMAN: Coastal fisheries are incredibly important to the Pacific because that is what is actually feeding the people. We hear a lot about the tuna fishery and the importance of the tuna fishery and the revenue that brings in for government. But very little of that money flows though to communities. Whereas the coastal fisheries themselves are actually providing the food that people need for subsistence and for small scale livelihood. So it is incredibly important and we are looking at a fishery that is probably worth 320 to 500 million US a year. That is very under-rated and doesn't really get the government support that it needs.
DON WISEMAN: As a result of that and some other factors, it is under a lot of pressure?
LC: Yes it is certainly under a lot of pressure. We are expecting the population of the Pacific to double in the next 15 to 20 years. Which means just to maintain the current level of per capita fish consumption, we are looking at an extra one hundred and twenty thousand tonnes of fish or seafood products, would be required just to feed the increased population. That is on top of what is already being taken out. Then you've got the impacts of climate change and the effects that will have. With ocean acidification that will affect coral reefs and if we start losing coral reefs, that will affect the habitat and the fish that are associated with that. So there is a whole suite of issues there. Including land generated pollution. Bad land management practices where erosion occurs, creating siltation in lagoons. So there is a whole suite of issues that are affecting coastal fisheries.
DW: You are having this meeting this week. You have brought together a lot of people. A lot of scientists and people critically involved in coastal fisheries across, I think 24 countries and territories in the Pacific. What is it you are looking to see emerge from these meetings?
LC: We are looking at how we can strengthen community based fisheries or resource, natural resource management of coastal fisheries. We have had attempts using western management approaches, with national fisheries departments and now we are moving back to a community based approach. And if you look across the Pacific, there is probably six or eight hundred pilot sites, where people are trialling different techniques for better management of natural resources at the community level. So this workshop is looking at bringing those practitioners together. So we have got government fisheries department officers, government fisheries conservation officers. We have got practitioners that are working with community based management. And we have got community members here as well and non-government organisations. So we are trying to get the main players together, to say okay, community based fisheries management is what we believe is the way to go. We have got all of these pilot sites. How can we actually look at this and take it to the next level and move up. Upscale it to a national approach or a sub-national approach and move away from these individual little pilot sites all over the place.
DW: And you are quite convinced that is the approach?
LC: Yes we believe that is the approach. Because there is lots of money from different donors through NGOs and that, going into specific communities, but they are a minority compared to all of the other communities that are getting nothing. So we really need to be looking at a more holistic approach, at a national or sub-national level. So that we can reach many more communities. And a lot of it is really how can we communicate better, how can we get the information out to communities. So that they understand what is going on and what they can actually do to make a difference.
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