New Fisheries book meets critical data gap

Fisheries is a critical sector for food security and economic growth in the Pacific region but despite this, the sustainable development of the industry and effective management of this precious resource has been hampered by the lack of accurate and up-to-date data. 
The much anticipated launch of the Fisheries in the Economies of Pacific Island Countries and Territories publication, in the wings of the Forum Fisheries Committee Ministerial meeting today, in Port Vila, Vanuatu, aims to address this deficit.  
The report was produced by Pacific Community’s (SPC) Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems (FAME) Division with support from the Government of Australia and the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA).
“Pacific Island countries and territories and their communities need to make informed decisions about the management of their fisheries sector given the importance of these resources for both food security and small-scale livelihoods. However, the lack of comprehensive data for coastal fisheries has been a major constraint in putting the estimates of production and value together,” Pacific Community FAME Director, Moses Amos, said at the launch.
“This is an area that needs to be addressed in the coming years so that when the study is undertaken again in five or six years, some of the current uncertainties would have been resolved,” Mr Amos said.
Forum Fisheries Agency Director General James Movick welcomed the book, noting it updates major work in previous studies by the same author. “In this sense, we now have an important time series of data here providing not just indications for Economic development in Pacific Fisheries in 2014, but which continues a historical perspective of how Pacific nations have worked and collaborated to secure growing economic returns, over a period covering more than 15 years.”
“FFA also collects data on economic indicators from the tuna fisheries of our members on an annual basis. This latest work provides an independent validation of these indicators, as well as putting them in the context of the whole fisheries sector for both Pacific Island countries and territories. I commend this timely contextual and independent information for anyone in the fisheries field, and many others in the development and other sectors, who wish to inform their interest in this important sector.”
The book allows for a new baseline in assessing the value of fisheries in Pacific Island countries and territories, both for measuring achievements and for assessing future improvements as well as documents changes in the management of the Pacific tuna fishery, food security concerns for coastal fisheries in the face of growing populations and the effects these have on Pacific Island economies.
Key findings reveal that coastal fisheries production has not increased significantly between 1999-2014 despite indications at the national level of increasing fishing pressure which validates concerns that many coastal fisheries in the region are either fully or over-exploited.
In contrast to coastal fisheries, access fees for foreign fishing increased almost three-fold (279%) in the period 2007-2014, as a result of the Vessel Day Scheme being introduced by the parties to the Nauru Agreement.
The 2016 Fisheries in the Economies of Pacific Island Countries and Territories is the third volume in a series of studies of fisheries to quantify benefits from the fisheries sectors of Pacific Island countries conducted by SPC consultant, Robert Gillett, who also authored the first and second volumes in 2001 and 2009 respectively. 
Mr Gillett visited 18 Pacific Island countries and territories and worked with local consultants in several locations to research for the 2016 report which was published by SPC in June 2016. --ENDS (FFA/SPC/AusAID)