Celebrating World Fisheries Day
World Fisheries Day, November 21, is celebrated throughout the world by fishing communities. In the Solomon Islands ACIAR has been supporting a program to help the ‘saltwater people’ of Lau Lagoon, Malaita, to take action to look after their marine resources for now and for future generations.
A recent United Nations study reported that more than two-thirds of the world's fisheries have been overfished or are fully harvested. More than one third are in a state of decline because of factors such as the loss of essential fish habitats, pollution, and global warming.
The ‘Saltwater people’ have lived on 50 artificial islands in the lagoon created by piling reef stones into mounds on the shallow reef flats and on coral or rock for some 300 to 400 years. They are referred to as “saltwater people” because of their close association with the marine environment.
Their livelihood depends heavily on marine resources as many islanders do not own land to grow root crops or vegetables. Fish and other marine resources are important for the islanders both as a source of daily food as well as items for food exchanged at the local markets.
The people have noticed that over time fish have started to get harder to catch and are getting smaller as the human population increases. Supported by ACIAR, the Solomons-based WorldFish Center has been working with two communities on the islands of Funa’afou and Niuleni.
Makwanu communities have just completed the development of formal management plans for their fishing grounds. These build on traditional management and also include some approaches that deal with modern fishing methods.
Through the ACIAR-project, village and marine resource management committees recently worked with the WorldFish Center to organise three concurrent workshops about marine resource management.
Workshops for men, youth and women were held on the artificial islands of Foueda, Niuleni and Funa’afou respectively. They focused on fish biology, management and monitoring.
The women’s workshop focused on training a core group of women in some key concepts about marine resource management. These women were equipped with the training and resources to be able to pass these messages on to other women in their communities as well as children in the home.
The youth workshop focused on marine resource awareness and management and included a look and learn trip to a marine protected area at Tauba.
Staff from the WorldFish Center, Foundation of the People’s of the South Pacific International and a Malaita Province fisheries officer led the workshops which were considered a useful learning experience by all.
WorldFish Center: www.worldfishcenter.org