For Pacific islanders, inshore fisheries are extremely important for food, income and employment. Coastal communities often have traditional, customary stewardship of the resources. But growing populations and more efficient fishing gears have resulted in unsustainable pressure on many inshore fisheries. This is a significant problem, as projections indicate that in 15 years time coastal fisheries will not meet the food security needs of 75% of Pacific island nations. The aim if this project is to improve community-based fisheries management (CBFM) in Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Kiribati. Research will include assessment of critical success factors of implementing CBFM, how CBFM interacts with broader livelihood choices, and how men and women make decisions around CBFM. It will also look at how the successes from work done in communities and with national agencies in the three partner countries be spread through the region. Outputs will focus on communications, including policy documents, training material, management plans, and workshops. Helping to facilitate better local and national governance of near-shore fisheries will lead to a sustainable and secure supply of fish for the region.
The project had a longer than anticipated development period and did not begin until contract signing in mid-June 2013. The late start, and subsequent slower than anticipated formalization of arrangements with partners, meant that many of the early milestones have been delayed. Changes in milestone delivery were decided collectively at the inception meeting 4-6 February 2014 which successfully clarified the roles of partners and the operating framework for the project. The first nine months of the project have been focussed on establishing the project teams, recruiting staff, completing several regional analyses, formalizing relations with partners and, in the case of Solomon Islands and Kiribati beginning fieldwork. Work in Solomon Islands is further advanced because early progress was supported by co-funding from CGIAR Program Aquatic Agricultural Systems (AAS).
Objective 1. Critically analyse CBFM and related interventions as used in the Pacific region.
A review of objectives, approaches and outcomes of community-based fisheries management in the Pacific has been published, both as a peer review publication and a SPC publication. This review provides an excellent foundation to guide our further analyses and reviews. Data collection on fisheries outcomes of CBFM in Solomon Islands is planned for December 2014, and this represents a continuation of research conducted under the ACIAR project (FIS/2010/056). Delays in implementation have meant that new community engagements in this project are also delayed, and while the research on fisheries outcomes does not yet extend to new community engagements, by building on existing community relationships it will represent a unique 5 year data set on fisheries outcomes. The research will inform both research and management practice in new engagements under this project. Planning of critical appraisals of CBFM in the three project countries will commence late in December 2014.
Objective 2. Design and implement CBFM in Kiribati communities in collaboration with Island Councils and national agencies.
In-country consultations have begun; the project team is liaising with national agencies and community leaders to devise a preliminary CBFM workplan that best takes into account local needs and interests. Consultations with national agencies clarified a need to stagger the project rollout for focal sites in order to allow time for lessons learned and adaptive responses. As a result, two sites (defined by islands) will see activities get underway in 2014, while a third site will commence in early 2015. In March 2014, the project team and national agency partners took part in a formal Island Council meeting at the first selected focal island of North Tarawa. An outcome of this well-attended meeting was that the team received a formal invitation to work with three pilot communities identified by members of the Island Council. Further community consultations in North Tarawa, an Island Council meeting in the second focal island of Butaritari, subsequent community consultations in Butaritari, and further training of two new locally hired SPC liaison staff will be the core focus of project activities during the remainder of 2014. A MoU with ANCORS, SPC and Government of Kiribati is under review.
Objective 3. Strengthen and enhance CBFM in Western Province of Solomon Islands in collaboration with provincial government and national agencies.
Co-funded by the CGIAR AAS Program, participatory scoping and planning was conducted in Western Province in late 2013 with provincial development partners. The exercise concluded with a stakeholder consultation workshop on understanding the role of CBFM in the development plans of the Western Province government. The scoping report details the status of CBFM in the province and provides the starting point for this project; helping to determine the relative effort to be expended at community, provincial and national government level. In early 2014, under ACIAR project FIS/2012/056, we complemented the scoping with a symposium of NGOs and government on CBFM in Western Province. A key outcome was the establishment of an information exchange and coordination network for these practitioners. Communities in the Western Islands of Western Province have been identified as priorities for the present project. Specific communities will be identified and engaged by late 2014. We will continue to communicate with and actively involve staff from both national and provincial governments during community engagement.
Objective 4. Design and implement CBFM in Vanuatu coastal communities in collaboration with provincial government and national agencies.
Formal MoUs have been signed with SPC and Government of Vanuatu to facilitate operations in-country and two ni-Vanuatu staff have been recruited. Vanuatu Department of Fisheries has initiated consultations with national agencies and communities as part of the scoping process needed to guide community selection and intervention logic.
Objective 5. Enhance understanding and mechanisms to accelerate scaling-out of CBFM in the Pacific region.
A scaling strategy is being developed in collaboration with project partners. A design workshop will be held at James Cook University 16-18 June 2014.
Objective 6. Design and implement an impact assessment programme to evaluate progress against AusAID and ACIAR indicators.
A national level theory of change for CBFM in Solomon Islands was produced in a meeting in March 2014. Theories of Change for Kiribati and Vanuatu have been delayed until 2015.
In this second reporting period the project completed the required formal arrangements with partner agencies and national governments. Building from this platform, we have accelerated activities and fully engaged with communities in all three target countries. In addition to the in-country work, significant progress has been made in regional analyses. Journal articles have been published on: coastal FADs in Solomon Islands and the region more broadly, critical reviews of CBFM in the region, Beche de Mer trade, and diversification of tuna for better food security and public health outcomes.
In Kiribati, a MoU with ANCORS, SPC and the Government of Kiribati was finalised and signed in 2014. A national scoping analysis of the status of fisheries (offshore and inshore) in Kiribati has been published as a WorldFish publication and provides a good background for our further activities. Since the employment of the two I-Kiribati local staff in May 2014, the CBFM Project has been approved to take place in North Tarawa and Butaritari and is currently being rolled out in a total of five communities. The participatory diagnosis phase was undertaken throughout 2014 and a report is being finalised. This report will provide the foundation for our planned activities in 2015 which will focus on designing community fisheries management plans. Data collection appraising the impacts of CBFM in Kiribati will also be a major focus in 2015. In October 2014, the project convened a CBFM stakeholder meeting which brought together community representatives, government staff and NGOs to discuss critical issues for the successful implementation of CBFM in Kiribati. Discussions are under way to hold a similar meeting at the end of 2015.
In Solomon Islands, scoping was completed in Western Province in 2014. Subsequently, it was decided to progress an engagement with a new community, Santupaele. Given the momentum in Leona/Paramatta and the opportunity to develop a longer timeframe understanding of fisheries management, adaptive management and fisheries outcomes, we continue our engagement there. Given the opportunity to share and apply lessons across Provinces, we also work in Radefasu and Fumato’o communities. In 2014 we held an internal workshop on community based resource management, to ensure we are reflecting on lessons from the last nine years of CBRM in Solomon Islands. This was an important, but one of many, steps to ensure we are building staff capacity, but also improving the quality of support we provide to CBMR to ultimately improve outcomes realised on the ground. These lessons are emerging in the literature now and influencing CBRM practice in the region. We have also in the last 12 months broaden our perspective to look more critically and the role and limitations of CBRM in addressing SSF and broader development concerns.
In Vanuatu, scoping and participatory planning processes have been completed in four communities in north Santo, Maselkyne Islands, and Aniwa. In 2015 we had planned to develop management plans and begin the implementation phases of the project, but in the closing weeks of the reporting period Tropical Cyclone Pam devastated Vanuatu and the communities in which we work. This has caused all project activities to be deferred until the situation improves.
In March 2015, a DFAT-funded workshop developed a regional Theory of Change for scaling out CBFM in the region. The output from the workshop, SPC’s ‘New Song’ for coastal fisheries in the region, better positions coastal fisheries in the regional food system and broader development challenges. The document was subsequently endorsed by HoF. The project has responded to this initiative to better support national agencies and SPC in its implementation. National Theories of Change are being developed in Kiribati and Solomon Islands and, hopefully Vanuatu
In this third reporting period, we summarise progress and achievements in regional activities and in each of the countries, and in response to the mid-term review held in September 2015.
With several exceptions (detailed in the activity tables) the project has effectively delivered the contracted outputs and in most cases exceeded targets, for example in the number of communities engaged and the number research outputs. The project has effectively adapted to the advent of the SPC regional initiative The New Song and, with the approval of FIS and in response to the mid-term review, effectively reoriented resources to support this important initiative. The strengthened networks and partnerships among institutions including SPC, WorldFish, ANCORS, James Cook University, and national agencies in Kiribati, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu have leveraged additional resources and capacity to support CBFM in the region.
The project has achieved a significant body of research output that contributes to better understanding of the role and limits of CBFM in the region (Objective 1). While much of this work is on-going and has yet to be published, it has informed national policy and investment through participation in meetings and other fora in Solomon Islands, Kiribati and Vanuatu, and contributed to bringing together agencies and individuals in developing the New Song. Of particular note were research outputs and partnership outcomes with a focus on the limits to CBFM in the region, FADs, and Beche de Mer. We have developed the partnerships and research tools to contribute to gender outcomes and these will be forthcoming in the remaining year of the project. These outputs are highly relevant to the strategic priorities of the region, the countries in which the project works and are aligned to Australia’s. Outputs focused on livelihood diversification and the role of aquaculture (in collaboration with FIS-2012-xxx) are delayed but will be completed in the coming year.
In Kiribati (Objective 2), we successfully developed community-based fisheries management plans in five communities in North Tarawa, and Butaritari in the Gilbert Island group. These plans are the first of their kind in Kiribati. To ensure long-term sustainability of the CBFM process in the communities, we also focused our engagement to include island-wide institutions (formal and informal) in North Tarawa and Butaritari. We have also begun engagement with a new Island, Makin, close to Butaritari to foster dialogue and support for the CBFM process taking place in Butaritari. We have built capacity of the in-country staff and collaborators in MFMRD and supporting national agencies from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Environment, Land and Agricultural Development in participatory engagement and facilitation techniques. We have effectively implemented activities in Kiribati and, although several have been delayed because of changes in government agencies, and the national elections, we anticipate all outputs will be achieved by the end of the project.
In Solomon Islands (Objective 3), management plans have been endorsed by communities in Santupaele, and Fumato’o. Pre-existing management plans in Leona and Paramatta have been reviewed and revised. Given the momentum in Leona and Paramatta and the opportunity to develop a longer timeframe understanding of fisheries management, adaptive management and fisheries outcomes, we continue only a light engagement there. In response to the mid-term review (see also below) the project is supporting more work in Malaita. In addition to more communities, Langalanga lagoon has been incorporated as a “non-CBRM setting”. Six communities have self-organized and registered a community-based organisation called OKRONUS and are pursuing a self-developed management. WorldFish is supporting this initiative with a particular focus on the Radefasu community. Langalanga has similarities to Tarawa lagoon in Kiribati, which offers potential for further comparative research under Objective 1.
We continue to invest in governance and learning networks to ensure the sustainability of project outcomes and to maximise the scale of those outcomes (see also Recommendation 1 below). In addition to our participation in the Western Province Fisheries Advisory committee and the National Fisheries Advisory Council, in late 2015 Grace Orirana was nominated to serve on the Malaita Province Fisheries Advisory Council. Grace is the first woman ever to serve on this council. Further to this, we have developed and submitted a proposal for funds to support and facilitate the formation of a coalition of Western Province natural resource management and development partners. This coalition will mainstream fisheries into provincial development dialogs, increase capacity on gender, and share lessons on networking from Malaita to Western Provinces.
Activities in Vanuatu (Objective 4) were interrupted by Tropical Cyclone Pam. As part of a broader Australian response, project resources were diverted to assist Department of Fisheries. Subsequently, although milestone have been delayed, thanks largely to sustained efforts by SPC project staff Rolenes Bareleo and Pita Neihapi, the project has regained momentum (as remarked upon by the mid-term review team). Management plans for six communities (three in the Maskelynes, and three in Santo) have been developed and are going through community consultations. Implementation is planned during May to June 2016. The development of an updated CBRM national policy continues on track, with minor adjustments to timing of activities.
Project activities to accelerate scaling of CBFM in the region (Objective 5) have been significantly revised to ensure continued relevance and to support the New Song. Co-investment from James Cook University has allowed recruitment of a post-doctoral fellow to track progress and learn lessons from this large scaling initiative. Additional project resources have been allocated to better understand and influence the governance implications of the New Song.
Project M&E (Objective 6) has made mixed progress in completing outputs and milestones. Theories of change have been developed in Solomon Islands and will be developed for Kiribati and Vanuatu. Village profile and socio-economic panel study survey instruments have been developed for long-term monitoring of key metrics associated to project indicators. Survey metrics have been taken from SPC socio-economic protocols to integrate with existing SPC datasets and to support the New Song. In response to Recommendation 5 of the mid-term review, the M&E plan will now be re-oriented to serve both the current project and the broader New Song. Note that this integration will also pursued through the pending contract variation. M&E surveys will be implemented during Q3-Q4 2016 in Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Kiribati to generate project baselines and strengthen the quantitative outcomes component of the project’s M&E.