Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP)
Sustainable fisheries management in Solomon Islands
Even before the pandemic, Solomon Islands’ coastal fisheries were under pressure. Coastal fisheries are vital to the income and food security of most rural households and can be a crucial coping mechanism for communities facing environmental, social and economic shocks.
However, due to overexploitation, environmental destruction and climate change, it has been projected that Solomon Islands’ coastal fisheries will be unable to meet domestic demand by 2030.
Last year, the Solomon Islands Government’s national State of Public Emergency declaration saw large numbers of city-dwellers return to their home provinces and villages. This action to control the pandemic has had some unforeseen ecological and economic impacts.
WWF community facilitators conducted rapid socio-economic surveys in five Western Province communities in May 2020. Three quarters of respondents observed increases in fishing effort and number of coastal fish caught as result of these sudden population increases. Around 70% noted that local fishing rules (on size limits, gear restrictions etc.) were not being followed.
“Not everyone was aware of customary rules and practices around fishing, because half of them are very new with the customary practices and rules,” explained one respondent from Riguru.
WWF Australia is working with communities in Western Province to redesign, construct and deploy near-shore, beach-accessible rafters. These rafters attract pelagic species of fish closer to shore, making them more accessible to people who do not have the resources or mobility to fish further out.
The rafters reduce pressure on reefs, while enabling people to meet their food and income needs.
New rafters have been deployed in four communities – Riguru, Varu, Saeraghi and Nusatuva, with more to come this year.
This work is supported through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).