19 Aug 2013

Report shows strain on coastal fisheries

7:14 pm on 19 August 2013

A new report into coastal fisheries resources in the Pacific shows that they are under strain, some fished to the brink of extinction, and many are not managed.

The Secretariat of the Pacific report looks at how much is known about coastal reef fish resources, and invertebrates - like sea-cucumber, in the Pacific.

The SPC's coastal fisheries programme manager, Lindsay Chapman told Leilani Momoisea that while 90 - 95 %,of these fish are caught for local consumption, not much is known about these resources.

LINDSAY CHAPMAN: There is a large lack of data right across the Pacific whether it's for reef fish species or for invertebrate species, and I guess we've got a bit more data for invertebrate species because we've been focussing on surveys for sea cucumbers especially, given they've been heavily overfished in quite a few of our member countries and four countries have moratoria in place at the moment to allow the stocks to rebuild.

LEILANI MOMOISEA: Is there a lack of data because there's no sharing going on or is it simply because people aren;t doing studies into this sort of thing?

LINDSAY CHAPMAN: It's mainly... because this is done country by country, different countries are doing different things and taking different approaches to their management and data collection. Some are focussing more on the tuna fishery whereas the coastal fisheries seem to be a lot more nelected in data in general that is being collected. And we're trying to raise the profile of the importance of coastal fisheries data because coastal fisheries is what's providing most of the food, the food security in the countries, and for small scale livelihood. And with the sea-cucumber fishery being closed in the four countries, that's a big money earner that's being lost to the countries because the fishery wasn't managed sustainably. We know that many of the main centres around the Pacific, the main urban centres, there is a shortage of fish and people are needing to go further to catch fish, or in some countries they are trying to bring in fish from other locations in the country, so we know there is over-fishing occurring, it's just there is no actual physical data to support that. So we're not saying don't manage the fishery because you don;t have data - we're saying you definitely need to manage the fishery but that part of that management is to include the monitoring so that you actually have an idea of what's happening in the fishery and then you can adapt your management accordingly as data becomes available.