Coastal fisheries threatened by over fishing
This is concerning given the significance of coastal fisheries to the food security of Pacific island countries.
WWF-Pacific Sustainable Fisheries and Seafood (SFS) Programme, Programme Manager, Duncan Williams says they have been working with various partners along the seafood supply chain in an effort to address overfishing in both the inshore and offshore fisheries sector and build a firm foundation for sustainable fisheries.
"At the community level we engage with and encourage communities to adopt sustainable fishing practises, explore value adding approaches and promote the adoption of alternative sources of income to give fish stocks a chance to replenish which in turn helps strengthen and safeguard long-term food security," he said.
“Some of the projects implemented include the use of spawning potential surveys with fishermen in Macuata and Ba to better understand the status of community managed fisheries and determining approaches to address sustainability issues collectively such as through seasonal fisheries closures.”
He said there is a need to improve data collection to help better understand the status of fisheries as well as the domestic supply chains to effectively manage resources.
Mr Williams said WWF also supports the work of the Ministry of Fisheries and industry stakeholders including the Fiji Fishing Industry Association (FFIA) to ensure that Fiji’s tuna fishing sector meet global seafood certification standards requirements.
“WWF, together with partners including the Ministry of Fisheries, The Fiji Fishing Industry Association (FFIA) and the Fiji Maritime Academy (FMA), is implementing the Developing Sustainable and Responsible Tuna Longline Fisheries in Fiji project which is funded by the New Zealand Government.”
“Under the project, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification of Fiji's Yellowfin and Albacore longline fisheries within Fiji's Exclusive Economic Zone and a portion of the adjacent high sea are being managed with a focus on addressing bycatch from the tuna longline fishery.”
Fisheries by-catch, the unintended species caught or interacted with during fishing operations, can form a significant proportion of the catch in some fisheries and have a deleterious impact on the populations of these species. Species of Special Interest (SSIs), for example marine turtles, seabirds such as albatross, and shark species such as oceanic whitetip and silky sharks, can be significantly impacted through by-catch due to their low reproductive rates and long lifespans.
“WWF is also working with communities and the fisheries sector to address bycatch and better conserve and manage threatened, endangered and protected species (TEP) such as turtles, sharks and rays.”
“Although aquaculture has potential, it currently makes only a tiny contribution to fisheries production in Pacific Island countries. Develop sustainable aquaculture to help relieve pressure on coastal fisheries resources and develop sustainable offshore fisheries with the intention of improving domestic food security,” he added.