Coastal Fisheries Programme

Number 137 (January–April 2012)

Produced by the Information Unit, Division of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems, SPC, B.P. D5, 98848 Noumea Cedex, New Caledonia. Fax: (687) 263818.

Produced with financial assistance from France, Australia and New Zealand


Collecting reliable data on catch and effort is one of the most challenging tasks that coastal fisheries managers face. Reef fisheries cover dozens, if not hundreds, of species, and usually involve large numbers of autonomous operators who use a wide range of fishing techniques. Estimating how much fish is extracted from reefs in a particular area using data collected from commercial fishers at landing or sale sites is all but impossible, because commercial small-scale fishers rarely all land or sell their catch at the same place at a predictable time. Furthermore, even if successful, a survey of commercial fishers omits subsistence and recreational fishing activities, which often represent the largest part of all reef fisheries catches in the Pacific.

Researchers in Moorea, French Polynesia, have sought to evaluate the fishery production of all lagoon fishing activities, beginning in 1985. In their article, Leenheardt and colleagues compare the results of five studies that were based on two different methodologies: catch monitoring surveys and consumption surveys. Surprisingly, these methods produced widely different results, and fishery production figures obtained from household surveys were almost 10 times higher than those obtained from catch monitoring surveys. The authors conclude that results obtained from consumer surveys are the most accurate.

Long before Pacific Island fisheries managers began surveying fish populations and household consumption, fishers living in the Indo-Pacific were plying the sea for fast-moving fish, mostly likely from boats. Archaeologists working in East Timor have recently discovered a cave with 42,000-year-old bones of tuna and sharks that were clearly brought to the cave by humans (see article by Balter). It is a fascinating archaeological find, one that raises intriguing questions about early seafaring. It must also make us stop and reflect whether our practices will ensure there are wild fish left to catch 42,000 years from now.

The issue of whether fishing practices are damaging is raised by Tim Adams, who discusses the pros and cons of fish aggregation devices. He notes that FADs are not intrinsically “bad” or “good”. FADs and all other fishing gear simplify the catching of fish, and any gear can become “damaging” given an excess of fishers, gear that is oversize compared with the fish stock, or significant non-fishing impacts.

Aymeric Desurmont
Fisheries Information Officer



Fishing at dusk, Rabaul, Papua New Guinea

Image: Malo Hosken, SPC

In this issue


  • Training on milkfish capture-based aquaculture in Fiji (pdf: )

  • IACT project calling for expressions of interest (pdf: )

  • Outcomes from Eighth Regular Session  of WCPFC disappointing (pdf: )

  • Second cruise of PNG tagging project a success (pdf: )

  • Tuna tag recoveries in PNG (pdf: )

  • 50,000th tag recovered in Papua New Guinea (pdf: )

  • Fisheries observers and the tagging project (pdf: )

  • Recent developments in regional fisheries information
    management systems (pdf: )

  • Communities in the Solomon Islands want effective
    enforcement of sea cucumber ban (pdf: )

  • Holy mackerel: Small fish, big potential (pdf: )

  • Financial management training for fisheries officers
    in the Solomon Islands (pdf: )

  • Sport fishing training in Niue (pdf: )


  • Leatherback sea turtle movements in the South Pacific (pdf: )

  • PNA free school skipjack officially MSC certified! (pdf: )

  • PNA/MSC – Innovating the tuna supply chain (pdf: )

  • Concerns over rapid increase in small tuna longliners (pdf: )

  • Solomon Islands industry supports university training
    to fish in Nauru (pdf: )

  • When humans first plied the deep blue sea (pdf: )


  • Reef and lagoon fisheries yields in Moorea:
    A summary of data collected
    by P. Leenhardt, R. Madi Moussa and R. Galzin (pdf: )

  • FADs – Are they all bad?
    by T. Adams (pdf: )

Download the complete publication:

Fisheries Newsletter #137 (pdf: )


   SPC Homepage | Copyright © SPC 2021