Western Pacific Coastal Fisheries Project

Coastal fisheries in the Western Pacific are under increasing pressure from overexploitation and loss of habitat in many parts of the region. Coastal fishing is practised both by local communities for subsistence and livelihoods and by commercial artisanal fishers. A wide range of finfish and invertebrates are harvested. Ecosystem degradation in the coastal zone is a result of both local stressors such as pollution / sedimentation, coastal development, destructive fishing practises, and the effects of climate change. Rising human population in the region and urbanisation is also increasing the demand for fish at the local and national level.

The Western Pacific Coastal fisheries Project (WPCFP) is a two-year project that aims to address the core issue of unsustainable coastal fishing in the region through a combination of economic and biological assessments that will highlight potential management measures and approaches to improve fisheries sustainability. The research is being conducted in three countries in the Western Pacific: Fiji (Melanesia), Tuvalu (Polynesia) and Nauru (Micronesia). The project will focus first on Fiji, which can act as a testing ground for research approaches for the other countries. In Suva, Fiji also contains one of the largest urban markets for coastal fish in the region, which is an ideal place for an economic study of fish trade. Once completed in Fiji the programme will be conducted in the two further countries during Year 2 according to specific country needs.

The outcomes of the research programme will contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal for the Oceans (SDG 14) by providing information that can be used to (i) improve the management of marine and coastal ecosystems (14.2) for marine resource use, and (ii) help to restore fish populations through regulating harvests and tackling IUU fishing in coastal waters (14.4).

The overall aim is to collect information that can directly contribute to the improved management of coastal fisheries in the Western Pacific through a combination of economic, biological and capacity needs assessments.

The core objectives are:

  • Determining the complete economic and non-economic value of coastal fisheries in selected spatially defined coastal region;
  • Complete a Value Chain Analysis (VCA) of fin-fish trade providing the main urban markets;
  • Assess the status of reef and inshore pelagic fish populations harvested by subsistence and artisanal fishers;
  • Better understand artisanal coastal fisheries supplying urban markets;
  • Identify the main drivers of, and interventions to address, the unsustainability of coastal fisheries, with particular emphasis of community- and fisher-based approaches;
  • Determine the potential increase in fisheries value under improved management (for example respecting or implementing national size limits);
  • Determine the capacity needs for more effective management of coastal fisheries in the selected countries.

Project Partners & Collaborators

The main project partners for the WPCFP are the national authorities for coastal fisheries management in the three countries, namely the Inshore Division of the Ministry of Fisheries in Fiji, the Department of Fisheries of the Ministry of Natural Resources in Tuvalu and the Nauru Fisheries and Marine Resources Authority (NFMRA). Other partners and collaborators are the Pacific Community (SPC), the Locally Managed Marine Area (LMMA) Network and the School of Marine Studies at USP. Relevant local and regional authorities will also be informed of the proposed research and permission sought where required.

MRV interview with fisher in Tiliva
Drying fishing net in Tiliva
Kalisiana MRV interview Ono District
Kelera, Mila and boathand from Mata
Local catch Ono District
Matasawalevu and Naiqoro Passage
Nukuvou Village

Core Team

Dr Simon Harding

Project Lead
Senior Research Fellow,
Institute of Marine Resources,
The University of the South Pacific

Kalisiana Marama

Coastal Fisheries Research Assistant
Institute of Marine Resources,
The University of the South Pacific

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