Fiji tuna vessels receive by-catch toolkits
By-catch, the term used for unintentional catch of non-targeted species such as protected turtles, sharks and seabirds has been a concern in global offshore fisheries and this initiative aims to help enhance sustainable fishing practices in Fiji’s longline fleet.
A by-catch mitigation toolkit consists of a toolbox that houses a set of pliers; bolt cutter; turtle de-hooker; and machete with a blade cover. A turtle dip net will be provided at a later date as stakeholders are currently working in amending the current design to improve practical functionality.
The supply of the by-catch mitigation toolkits was supported by the By-catch and Integrated Ecosystem Management (BIEM) Initiative implemented by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) under the Pacific-European Union Marine Partnership (PEUMP) programme funded by the European Union and the Government of Sweden and by the New Zealand government through the Developing Sustainable and Responsible Tuna Longline Fisheries in Fiji project that is a project partnership between the Fiji Fishing Industry Association (FFIA), Ministry of Fisheries Fiji (MoF), Fiji Maritime Academy (FMA) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
The by-catch mitigation toolkits were launched in conjunction with the launching of Fiji’s offshore industry’s ‘Bycatch Best Handling Practices: A Guideline for Skippers and Crew on Longline Fishing Vessels in Fiji’ and ‘Best Practice for Bycatch Mitigation in Fiji’s Tuna Longline Fishery: For Vessel Owners & Operators’ guidelines.
WWF has embarked on a three year project with the MoF, FFIA and FMA to ensure that Fiji’s tuna sector continues to enhance its reputation as a world leader in sustainable tuna fisheries by enhancing capacity and understanding for by-catch mitigation and contributing to the management of Fiji offshore fisheries which in turn strengthens the contribution of sustainable Tuna fisheries to Fiji’s economy.
It was estimated in 2019 that a total 4, 311 shark species interactions were made within Fiji’s longline fisheries where 4, 289 of shark species were discarded, 10 retained and 12 escaped. For sea turtles, estimates indicated that a total of 83 sea turtle cases of gear interactions were recorded and of the 83 sea turtles that were interacted with, 44 sea turtles were released alive while 39 were released dead.
According to WWF-Pacific’s Sustainable Fisheries and Seafood Programme Manager, Duncan Williams while the development of such “best approaches” to mitigate and avoid the capture of unwanted by-catch is a huge progress, the success of these tools will require continuous collaboration between all stakeholders including crew, vessel owners and fishing companies.
Jamie Davies, BIEM Initiative Manager at SPREP added his support for the initiative. “We are very pleased to be working with the Government of Fiji, WWF-Pacific and the fishing industry to help reduce the capture and death of protected marine species. Sharks, turtles and seabirds are a key part of a healthy marine ecosystem and every effort must be made to satisfy the Conservation Management Measures set by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) in Fiji’s waters and throughout the region.
SPREP is leading Key Result Area 5 of the PEUMP programme, the BIEM Initiative, to support the governments of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu in the sustainable management of coastal and marine biodiversity.
The BIEM Initiative consists of eight integrated areas consisting of marine spatial planning; integrated ‘ridge to reef’ ecosystem strategies and coastal zone management planning; development and integration of climate change adaptation strategies into coastal community plans; assessment of bycatch of endangered species and extinction risk; development and implementation of bycatch mitigation strategies; capacity development through research grants to citizens of Pacific island countries; support for community monitoring and protection of endangered species; and capacity development of Non-Detrimental Findings process for CITES partners. Human rights and gender equality will be core considerations in the development and implementation of each of these components. (ENDS)
For more information please contact Jamie Davies, BIEM Initiative Manager, at SPREP: email@example.com.
The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) is the premiere intergovernmental regional environmental organisation of the Pacific, with 21 Pacific island Members and five metropolitan Members. SPREP’s mandate is to promote cooperation in the Pacific region and provide assistance in order to protect and improve its environment and to ensure sustainable development for present and future generations. SPREP’s core priorities are Climate Change Resilience, Ecosystem and Biodiversity Protection, Environmental Governance, and Waste Management and Pollution Control. It is guided by its vision for the future: “A resilient Pacific environment, sustaining our livelihoods and natural heritage in harmony with our cultures.” For more please visit www.sprep.org
The Pacific-European Union Marine Partnership (PEUMP) Programme addresses some of the most serious challenges faced by Pacific countries. Among these are the increasing depletion of coastal fisheries resources; the threats to marine biodiversity, including negative impacts of climate change and disasters; the uneven contribution of oceanic fisheries to national economic development; the need for improved education and training; and the need to mainstream a rights-based approach and to promote greater recognition of gender issues to ensure inclusiveness and positive changes for Pacific island people. This five-year PEUMP programme is funded by the European Union (EUR 35 million) and the Government of Sweden (EUR 10 million). It is implemented by the Pacific Community (SPC), the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the University of the South Pacific (USP) in close collaboration with Non-Government Organisations and the national authorities.