Inshore Fisheries Management Division
Our coastal fisheries are faced with the triple threat of overfishing, increasing coastal development, and climate change. To protect our inshore fisheries for future generations we have to approach their management conservatively. We have to think differently about how we manage our fish stocks and take a precautionary approach, only doing things we can show to be sustainable, and not using a lack of scientific data as a reason not to do the things we all know need to be done.
A recent report into coastal fisheries states “the limited information available suggests that the finfish and invertebrates in many areas of Fiji, in common with many other reef fisheries in the Pacific, are overexploited”.
In view of this, the Fiji government has taken on this critical challenge with Cabinet approving the establishment of a new division within the Ministry of Fisheries to lead the process of reform in inshore fisheries management. The new division will lead a new approach in inshore fisheries management planning and policy, a new approach to fisheries monitoring, and a new approach to fisheries compliance.
The key role of the IFMD is to support the effective and sustainable management of inshore fisheries resources. This will be achieved through collaboration with the Ministry’s four geographic divisions, and the development of policies, legislation, and management plans that control access and harvest through inshore fisheries conservation and management measures. These will include measures on fishing vessels, fishers, and markets, licensing, fishing gear, fishing areas, and fishing times and will represent the key elements of a monitoring, control and surveillance program.
The IFMD will support the geographic divisions to provide services for compliance and for data collection, as well as in their role as the implementers for inshore fisheries program activities. There will need to be a new approach to fisheries development activities to focus on maximising the benefits from fish at the level they are already being harvested, and moving pressure into other areas of the fishery, with a much-reduced focus on catching more fish. Fisheries development activities that conflict with the objectives of sustainable management will have to be reviewed.
Fiji has shown its international support for this new approach through commitments given at the 2017 United Nations Oceans Conference, specifically through its statement “Delivering Improved Coastal Fisheries Management Services in Fiji’’. These commitments are:
- Fiji will have a National Fisheries Policy in place that is linked to Fiji’s broader Oceans 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 Fiji’s 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.
The work of the Inshore Fisheries Management Division will include implementing these commitments, as well as:
- Developing an inshore fisheries operational compliance strategy and standard operating procedures.
- Developing and delivering a training program for staff and volunteer fish wardens.
- Implementing a seasonal spawning closure for groupers.
- Developing and inshore fisheries research strategy.
- Developing an inshore fisheries management framework and policy.
- Supporting legislation reform.
- Developing an inshore fisheries database.
- Re-establishing the fish market survey.
- Fully implementing inshore fisheries catch returns.
- Developing policy for inshore fisheries data collection, management, storage, access, and sharing.
The Inshore Fisheries Management Division (IFMD) is based at the Ministry of Fisheries’ Walu Bay office facility.