The objective of this voluntary commitment is to begin a program of immediate reform of the coastal fisheries sector and establish a national fisheries policy to guide fisheries management in Fiji.
A majority of the Fijian population is coastal and therefore highly reliant on inshore fisheries for their subsistence and local economic needs. Although 33 percent of all animal protein consumed in Fiji comes from fish, and subsistence and commercial fisheries contribute at least US$44.4 million to Fijis annual GDP, inshore fisheries are grossly undervalued in national accounting and development planning. Decades of poor or neglected management means that many coastal fisheries are fully exploited, especially close to urban centers. Boom and bust exploitation has nearly collapsed the reproductive stocks of a number of marine species and altered food web relationships, affecting ecosystem productivity and food security.
High value species such as sea cucumbers are now rare, putting further pressures on the remaining marine resources for local livelihoods. Size limits under the Fisheries Act 1941 are outdated, not well known, and poorly enforced, with many species in the markets below reproductive size. Aggregations for highly vulnerable species of groupers continue to be targeted during key spawning periods. Increases in population and demand for fisheries products for consumption and export, coupled with climate change vulnerability, will likely further drive many of our local fisheries to collapse unless actions are put in place to manage them sustainably.
The implementation of the national fisheries policy will require the urgent creation of a coastal fisheries management division within the Ministry of Fisheries, and the immediate establishment of coherent policies and strategies dealing with coastal fisheries management. These will be consistent with high level policy documents and well integrated with the Ministrys Annual Corporate Plan and Annual Business Plan. Equally important is that the strategies and tools to be used to achieve coastal fisheries management objectives are based on available traditional and scientific knowledge and information, and are proven to be effective. Management plans and their effective implementation are needed to ensure the recovery of highly depleted or declining fisheries that are critical to local communities and the national economy. These cannot be effective without proactive enforcement of the fisheries laws and policies, to reduce and where possible eliminate illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fisheries in Fiji. This can only be done in close coordination with other enforcement agencies and members of the judiciary system.
Genuine and effective partnerships are critical to improving coastal fisheries management, and the Ministry of Fisheries will work closely with the private sector and businesses, NGOs, networks like the Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area (FLMMA) and Women in Fisheries Network-Fiji (WiFN-Fiji), and academic institutions to maximize the use of limited resources, and enhance the targeted outputs and outcomes on the ground.
Updates to voluntary commitment
Fiji will have a National Fisheries Policy in place that is linked to Fijis broader Ocean Policy Framework, and at least 2 management plans will come into force to ensure the recovery of severely depleted or declining fisheries stocks that are critical for community livelihoods and food security and the national economy.
The Ministry of Fisheries will establish a Coastal Fisheries Management Division, with adequate staffing, resources and capacity to ensure the effective management and oversight of Fijis coastal fisheries.
The Ministry of Fisheries will be implementing a clear and coherent compliance and enforcement strategy to address and successfully prosecute illegal, unreported and unregulated fisheries, in partnership with other enforcement agencies and the judiciary system.
There will be an improved system of coastal fisheries management, including catch data collection, supporting research, and mechanisms to ensure that management is adaptive.
Other, please specify
Ministry of Fisheries - US$150,000
Staff / Technical expertise
Ministry of Fisheries, Department of Environment, Department of Lands, the Pacific Community (SPC), Fiji Locally Managed Marine Areas (FLMMA), University of the South Pacific (USP), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF)
Other, please specify
NGOS: Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area Network (US$100,000), Wildlife Conservation Society (US$400,000), World Wildlife Fund for Nature (US$200,000)