Coastal Fisheries Programme

Number 161 (January–April 2020)

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


A few years ago, while sheltered in a safe anchorage listening to the approaching storm, lightning struck our boat. A white lightning bolt went through the cabin and all lights went out. Once the shock of the first few seconds had passed, we took an inventory of the damage. Electrical power and electronics were out of order, but the rigging looked fine and the hull stayed afloat, even if burned in a few places. In fact, once the boat was back in port and dry-docked, it took us weeks to identify and repair the countless consequences of this incident, as lightning had struck the farthest reaches of the boat, including electronics that were disconnected at the time of impact. We even discovered two small holes in the hull, just at the waterline, through which the lightning had dispersed into the ocean.

Similarly, it will likely take months, if not years, to identify the myriad consequences of the COVID-19 crisis that has been affecting the world since the beginning of 2020. From a health perspective, our region has been relatively unscathed, with only a few cases, thanks in part to the rapid closure of borders. But what struck me, when reading the articles in this issue about the possible impacts of COVID-19 on our fisheries, was the variety of possible or proven consequences, and especially the fact that no one is spared, not even remote coastal communities, which, despite everything, depend on trade that can no longer take place because seafood markets are closed, or means of transport are at a standstill (see articles by Neville Smith, Francisco Blaha and LLMA et al.).

Another surprising consequence of the COVID-19 crisis has been the return of many urban dwellers to their villages when the sharp economic downturn affected the labour market. Additional resources will be needed to ensure food security for these people. The pressure on natural resources will, therefore, increase. Sound management of these resources has never been more important. The challenge is immense, it will take time, but the region has often shown its incredible capacity for resilience.

Aymeric Desurmont
Fisheries Information Specialist




Offloading the catch from a USA-flagged purse seiner fishing in the western Pacific. (image: Francisco Blaha)

In this issue


  • How the COVID-19 crisis is affecting Pacific Island fisheries and aquaculture (pdf: )

  • Supporting fisheries rehabilitation in Tonga’s special management areas by promoting alternative fishing methods (pdf: )

  • Positive impacts observed from the Effective Coastal Fisheries Management project in the Pacific (pdf: )

  • Kiribati takes a major governance step towards sustainable coastal fisheries (pdf: )

  • Experiencing fisheries data management enhancement as a Pacific Island Fisheries Professional at SPC (pdf: )


  • A short list of possible COVID-19 impacts on tuna fisheries in the Pacific Islands region (pdf: )

  • Rapid and preliminary assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on Pacific Island coastal fishing communities (pdf: )

  • A snapshot of freshwater prawn (Macrobrachium lar) collection activities in Naone community, Vanuatu (pdf: )

  • Vanuatu sea cucumber fishery opens under a strengthened quota management system (pdf: )

  • A survey to illuminate Fiji’s domestic fish trade (pdf: )


  • A comparison of sea cucumber fishery management plans, and implications for governance in Pacific Island countries (pdf: )

  • A carefully protected treasure: the Pacific Marine Specimen Bank (pdf: )

pdfDownload the complete publication:

Fisheries Newsletter #161 (pdf: )


   SPC Homepage | Copyright © SPC 2021