Pacific Small Scale Fisheries: Empowering communities to strengthen sustainability, food security and livelihoods

Quentin Hanich presentating at SSGM seminar

The Pacific Islands region encompasses 14 Pacific island states and 8 territories that include some of the world’s smallest countries surrounded by a vast maritime estate. The combined exclusive economic zones EEZs of the Pacific island states cover roughly 30,569,000 km² and includes some of the Pacific’s most productive waters. Coastal and lagoon fisheries are critically important to many Pacific island states with few other sources of protein. It is estimated that fish provide 50% - 90% of animal protein intake in rural areas and 40% - 80% in urban areas. Most of the fish eaten by rural people (particularly for people from the coral atolls and smaller islands) come from subsistence fisheries, with little or no cash cost to the consumer.

Due in part to the paucity of land, and few agricultural or mineral opportunities, the viability of many Pacific island states and territories as independent nation states is dependent on the capacity of their lagoon and coastal fisheries to provide food security and livelihoods, and the ongoing sustainability of their oceanic fisheries to provide revenue and development opportunities. However, coastal and lagoon fisheries resources are heavily utilised, often overfished, and under pressure from climate change and other impacts. The Pacific Community has estimated that 75% of Pacific island coastal fisheries will not meet food security needs by 2030 due to a forecast 50% growth in population, limited productivity of coastal fisheries (exacerbated by overfishing) and inadequate national distribution networks.

In 2015, the Pacific Islands region developed a new strategy for coastal fisheries management: ‘A New Song for Coastal Fisheries - Pathways to Change: the Noumea Strategy’. The New Song represents an important shift away from failed centralised models of coastal fisheries management towards a greater focus on community based approaches that empower and support communities to manage their marine resources within national legislative and policy frameworks. The strategy was developed by regional stakeholders, experts and governments at a regional workshop, and was subsequently endorsed by the Ninth Heads of Fisheries Meeting at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.

The seminar discusses these new approaches to coastal fisheries and livelihoods, and focuses on a case study of Kiribati, where coastal fisheries are fundamental to food security, livelihoods and development.

Dr Quentin Hanich is an Associate Professor at the Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS), University of Wollongong, where he leads the Fisheries Governance Research Program. He has worked widely throughout the Asia Pacific region on numerous research, advisory and consulting projects, and is recognized as a regional expert on international fisheries governance and development, and more broadly on various aspects of oceans governance and marine conservation. In addition to his research and project activities, he has chaired working groups at international treaty meetings, facilitated inter-governmental workshops, and advised Ministerial meetings and national delegations.

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