Lobster and sea cucumber affected by the use of scuba to fish. (Photo: LMMA Network/FIS)
Steps must be taken now to protect Pacific marine life: SPC
Wednesday, February 01, 2012, 03:20 (GMT + 9)
Lobsters and other fish species may disappear from Pacific island fisheries unless certain measures are taken, according to scientists and managers from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Locally-Managed Marine Area (LMMA) Network.
The measures recommended in 16 information sheets include actions such as reducing or stopping the use of SCUBA to fish for sea cucumbers and lobsters. The advice is especially targeted at Pacific Communities and was launched this week in Suva, Fiji.
The sheets were developed by SPC and the LMMA Network to address the need to protect the region's coastal fisheries in light of dire projected climate change impacts and rising population growth, both of which are intensifying fishing pressure on many regional reef systems.
In fact, SPC research tells that tropical Pacific reef fish stocks could plummet by up to 20 per cent by 2050 and up to 50 per cent by 2100. Climate change will impact fish population distribution and numbers as climbing sea temperatures slash food availability for reef fish and alter the timing and efficiency of fish reproduction.
Most coastal communities in the Pacific eat more fish than people elsewhere on the planet and depend on reef fisheries for food.
“In the Melanesian countries, in particular, where the bulk of the population still live in rural areas, I shudder to think what the impact could be because reliance on fish is extremely high --it is one of the major sources of protein”, stated Hugh Govan, an Advisor to the LMMA Network, ABC Radio Australia reports.
Management programmes implemented in Fiji have been successful, told Pio Radikedike, site manager for Veratavou, Viti Levu.
“We have increased the number of MPAs [marine protected areas] in our village because the communities, the chiefs, have seen the benefits from what we have been doing”, Radikedike shared.
Dr Hugh Govan believes that local community knowledge combined with scientific research is a key ingredient.
“Communities in the Pacific are well placed to manage their own fisheries as they still usually have traditional and local knowledge of their areas and resources. In fact over 400 communities are known to be managing their inshore areas in the Pacific”, he said.
The information sheets will be distributed to communities across the Pacific.
“What is unique about these sheets is that, together, the SPC and LMMA Network are trying to get a consistent message to all Pacific communities in terms of resource management”, added Coastal Fisheries Science and Management Adviser for the SPC Ian Bertram.
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