By Elaine Vaina
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| March 31, 2015
Island communities in New Ireland province have been actively involved in a range of fisheries-related activities that the WCS Marine program in Kavieng had been conducting under its Small-Scale Fisheries Management project.
The two year fisheries project is funded by the David Lucile and Packard Foundation, though the marine team intends to continue its work well into the future.
WCS Fisheries Technical Advisor and project manager, Dr Sven Frijlink and his team had recently carried out these fisheries activities across three different communities of the Tigak group of Islands outside Kavieng. They were at Selapiu island on the 16th – 18th March, Tugalop on the 19th – 20th and finished off at Bangatan island last week Monday and Tuesday (23rd – 24th March).
Late last year the team spent over three weeks across five communities in the remote Tsoi Islands –Tsoilik, Mamion, Kuliban, Ungakum and Kavulik.
The team presented a range of management options for local fisheries that were previously flagged by communities as important and in need of management.
They also discussed issues associated with each option such as the likelihood of success, ease of implementation, and potential displacement of fishing catch or effort and they conducted surveys to understand community preferences for each option.
“This feedback is pivotal in the development of management instruments”, said Dr. Frijlink.
“We also conducted five fishery-specific focus group sessions at each of the five communities. During these sessions, we were able to gain a better understanding of local fisheries, including historical health trends, harvesting patterns, degree of fishing pressure and whether or not traditional management measures have been applied”, Dr. Frijlink added.
Sarah Lawless, an Australian social research volunteer who joined the project last year helped to develop the socio-economic survey questionnaires that were used to collect data during those visits.
She said these surveys were conducted to understand the locals’ dependency on fisheries as an income source and food security.
“Importantly, we were also able to identify the locations of numerous spawning aggregation sites for trevallies, snappers and rabbit-fishes”, Dr. Frijlink said.
Information collected will be instrumental in assessing the applicability of various fisheries management initiatives.