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About the Nearshore Fisheries Development Section (NFDS)

The Nearshore Fisheries Development Section (NFDS) deals with the third objective of the SPC Coastal Fisheries Programme’s current strategic plan:

To develop sustainable nearshore fisheries in PICTs to provide food security, livelihoods,economic growth and climate change adaptation.

In the area of fisheries development, it is recognized that economic development based on fisheries resources remains a priority for many Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs), although the opportunities for increased catches from existing lagoon and reef fisheries are few and far between. The Section places emphasis on developing alternative fisheries, based on robust resources such as skipjack tuna, and adding to the value of existing catches through better handling, processing and export markets. Recreational fishing, particularly associated with tourism, also provides economic opportunities that do not threaten the resource in some PICTs.  The government-led development model, with national fishing companies, has finally been abandoned and the programme works to foster private enterprise. Support is provided for fishing industry bodies and fishers associations that can promote the interests of the private sector.

Typically, the projects implemented by the NFDS are integrated (involving a range of stakeholders) and require a close collaboration with other Sections of the FAME Division. The Section endeavours to promote the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries and its initiatives aim to bring options to PICT governments and communities looking for solutions in relation to climate change adaptation, food security and economic development.

In 2009, the nearshore fisheries development team continued to establish sustainable fish aggregating device (FAD) programmes for coastal communities with deployments and training in Tokelau, FSM and Wallis and Futuna. Eleven fisheries officers or trainers of fishing crew were themselves trained on bycatch mitigation, to reduce the capture of endangered species by commercial tuna fisheries. New bycatch mitigation requirements have been adopted by WCPFC and will enter into force in 2010. In addition, section staff coordinated a hook exchange project in Rarotonga, Cook Islands. The goal of the project, now monitored by the Ministry of Marine Resources, is to ensure the longline fishery is using more ‘turtle-friendly’ large circle hooks.

In a new initiative in nearshore fisheries, SPC coordinated two feasibility studies on the potential for sport fishing development in Cook Islands. An action plan for this development was endorsed by the Ministry of Marine Resources and at the end of 2009 implementation of the plan was well underway. The pilot project in New Caledonia in 2008 on using fish waste to make silage continues to attract interest from other PICTs. Fish silage is made from ground fish waste and can contribute to the enriching of soils, particularly in the region’s atolls. A second fish silage project was launched in October in Niue Island and an increasing number of requests for technical information or assistance have been received by SPC in 2009.

For more information, please contact Michel Blanc, Nearshore Fisheries Development Adviser

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