Coastal Fisheries Programme

Number 155 (January–April 2018)

Produced by the Pacific Community, Division of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems, Information Section, BP D5, 98848 Noumea Cedex, New Caledonia

Produced with financial assistance from the Australian Government, the European Union, France and the New Zealand Aid Programme


Size limits seem to have regained popularity in the reef fisheries world. They are the main topic of two very interesting articles in this issue, among many others.

Imposing species-specific size limits is one of the management measures used to ensure that animals will have a chance to reach adult size and reproduce successfully before being caught. But for this to happen, the size of maturity of the species must be known, which is not the case for many tropical reef fish. In Fiji, scientists have partnered with communities to study and estimate the size of maturity of 46 of the main reef fish species consumed or sold there (see article by Prince et al. here). They have also studied the pros and cons of placing these minimum size limits into categories that are rounded to the nearest 5 cm to facilitate monitoring and enforcement. They hope that their results will be broadly applicable across the Pacific Islands region with minor adjustments.

Imposing size limits also means imposing restrictions on fishers, which is a move that is rarely popular. The benefits of these restrictions, which should be increased stocks and better fishing, sometimes take a long time to come to fruition and are not always spectacular. It may, however, be different in sea cucumber fisheries. According to Lee and his colleagues (see their article here), who have studied the potential impact of a strict enforcement of sea cucumber size limits in four Melanesian countries, the benefits – particularly increased economic returns – should be spectacular. They estimate that ‘if minimum legal size limits were enforced, the entire long-term harvest of some species could increase by up to 97% and generate up to 144% more revenue.’

If you look at it from the other side, slack enforcement of size regulations – often a consequence of a lack of political will or weak governance – may induce huge economic losses. If the economic benefits of carefully managing marine life are so obvious, what are we waiting for?

Aymeric Desurmont
Fisheries Information Specialist




Recording coral reef fish sizes at a Fiji market (image: Sangeeta Mangubhai).

In this issue


  • Community Marine Monitoring Toolkit: A locally-developed toolkit for Vanuatu  (pdf: )

  • Establishment of the Coastal Fisheries Working Group (CFWG)  (pdf: )

  • Coastal Fisheries Law and Policy Task Force (pdf: )

  • Observer safety and new technologies discussed at ROCW 18  (pdf: )

  • French Polynesia is ‘OnBoard’: implementation of an electronic logsheet application for longline fishing vessels  (pdf: )

  • The aquatic biosecurity component of the ‘Sustainable Pacific aquaculture development for food security and economic growth’ project meets success(pdf: )

  • Fiji clams on the rise again  (pdf: )

  • Solomon Islands and Timor Leste exchange knowledge in tilapia aquaculture (pdf: )

  • Nadi tilapia cluster aquaculture equipment handover  (pdf: )


  • A checklist and status overview of the sharks and rays of Solomon Islands  (pdf: )

  • Boat fuel consumption by sea cucumber fishers: new study raises concern  (pdf: )

  • Not all tuna are equals in terms of mercury: location matters  (pdf: )

  • Fisheries of the Pacific Islands: Regional and national information  (pdf: )


  • Economic and other benefits of enforcing size limits in Melanesian sea cucumber fisheries  (pdf: )

  • Cost–benefit analysis of the emergency ‘grab bag’ programme (pdf: )

  • Spatiotemporal variability in bigeye tuna vertical distribution in the Pacific Ocean (pdf: )

  • Developing a system of sustainable minimum size limits for Fiji (pdf: )

pdfDownload the complete publication:

Fisheries Newsletter #155 (pdf: )



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