Prohibiting destructive fishing practices, closing fish spawning aggregation sites, minimum size limits, no-take areas and rotational harvesting of some invertebrates are a few of the fisheries management initiatives that villages of the Tigak and Tsoi Islands in New Ireland province have agreed to include in their fisheries management plans.
10 communities in the Tigak and Tsoi Islands have been working in collaboration with the Wildlife Conservation Society Papua New Guinea programme to sustainably manage their marine resources.
In January and February this year (2016), WCS New Ireland’s fisheries management team conducted four workshops across these communities to forge fisheries management plans.
The main aim of the workshops was to get community leaders approval on the management rules to be included in their plans.
“People in the village are now starting to see how important is for us to be able to catch fish when we need to. They are also beginning to understand that if our children are going to eat fish when they grow up we must look after what we have,” said a village elder from Mamion village in the Tsoi islands.
Development of the management plans is a culmination of two years partnership with WCS and island communities which are dependent on healthy marine resources.
WCS Fisheries Advisor, Dr Sven Frijlink said that for each community the management proposals were framed around key fisheries with spin-off benefits to other fisheries. He added that the management process commenced with information sessions on fisheries ecology and management needs followed by the identification of locally important fisheries.
Other ‘steps’ in the process involved focus group sessions for important fisheries, socioeconomic surveys and community surveys of preferred management options for key fisheries.
Prior to the management plan workshops, a fishing catch and effort survey was completed in each community. Survey results have provided a baseline understanding of fisheries health and a benchmark from which to measure future changes.
“Initiatives were also developed to be easily understood and administered, consistent across villages and a workable balance between short and long term management needs,” said Dr Frijlink.
Other management initiatives include the deployment of fish aggregating devices (FADS).
“It is hoped that FADS will transfer fishing pressure from highly exploited reef fish to less vulnerable pelagic fish such as tunas and mackerels,” says Dr Frijlink.
WCS will continue to work with the 10 villages to provide advice, train data collectors and deploy FADS.
All management plans are expected to be completed next month and will be reviewed every five years.