Date Released: 
24/01/2018

Catching, trading and eating fish is central to the South Pacific way of life, but in recent years rising populations and associated increased fishing pressure has led to a decline in coastal fisheries.

By the year 2030, an additional 100,000+ tonnes of fish per year will be needed across the Pacific region to ensure good nutrition and health outcomes.

Since 2013, UOW’s Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS) has worked closely with international research agency WorldFish, on research into community based fisheries management in Kiribati, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

The Australian Government recently announced a second phase for the program to build on this work to scale out improvements in the wellbeing of people in Pacific coastal communities through more productive and resilient fisheries and better food and nutrition security.

The project team, which comprises ANCORS, WorldFish, the Pacific Community and national agencies, is funded by the Australian Government through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). Funding of $8 million from the Australian Government’s aid program to UOW and partners is augmented by $2.5 million committed to the project by the University. Collaborating partners in the Pacific region are contributing further in-kind support of $1.5 million.

The renewed partnership will be officially launched today (Wednesday 24 January) by the Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Senator the Hon Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, at a special event at ANCORS’ base at UOW’s Innovation Campus.

Project Leader, Professor Neil Andrew from ANCORS, said the collaborative partnership seeks to change the trajectory of coastal fisheries management in the Pacific, particularly in Kiribati, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

“We’re working at community, national and regional scales to ensure better productivity of coastal fisheries, better household access to fish and better community knowledge about how fish can improve health outcomes,” he said.

“The project will address a broad range of issues around fish and fisheries, including gender and social inclusion, governance, and improving rural livelihoods. We seek to increase the contribution of fish in tackling the public health crisis developing in the region as a result of poor diets.”

Minister Fierravanti-Wells said it was important to continue such an important research and development program which brings together national agencies, international bodies and scientific expertise to improve coastal fisheries management in Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and the Pacific region as a whole.

“On behalf of the Australian Government, I am proud to be announcing the renewal of this partnership with funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR),” the Minister said.

“Already the program has supported the development of community-based fisheries management plans in Kiribati, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, which will deliver long term sustainability by banning destructive fishing methods.”

“This extension of funding will assist these Pacific countries to create a much more holistic approach to coastal fisheries management and will be able to take on learnings from previous work, building on capacity, especially with individuals, and filling in the gaps where knowledge is needed to accelerate development.”