Community-Based Fisheries Strategies to Help Vulnerable Island Communities
More than 70% of Solomon Islanders derive their livelihood from subsistence fishing and agriculture. However, the well-being of these people, one third of whom are under the age of 15, is under threat. Faced with one of the highest annual population growth rates in the world, habitat degradation, climate change, and an increasing demand for cash, small-scale fisheries in this South Pacific archipelago are finding it harder and harder to meet the increasing demand for fish.
Examples of a communities with a high reliance on fish for both food and income can be found in Lau Lagoon, located on the northeast coast of Malaita Island. The lagoon contains 60 small artificial islands that were established some 300-400 years ago. Today the lagoon is home to about 140,000 people who are almost entirely dependent on fishing for their livelihoods. Another fisheries-dependent community, located in the village of Kia, on the island of Santa Isabel, has four years’ worth of data showing that local stocks of sea cucumbers have not increased since their severe depletion in 2005/06. Both communities have made decisions to make positive efforts to retain and restore their fisheries related livelihoods.
The Improving Resilience and Adaptive Capacity of Fisheries Dependent Communities in Solomon Islands project is working to improve fisheries related livelihoods across the Solomon Islands by developing community-based (fisheries) management plans (CBMPs) that identify the strengths and weaknesses of fisher communities like those in Lau Lagoon and Kia, as well as highlighting opportunities and threats.
Whilst the focus of the project is the rural communities, the WorldFish team also works with local government and NGO partners. The team seeks to learn from and share lessons with these organizations to ensure that relevant staff have the right skills to provide communities with the necessary information and assistance to begin developing their respective management plans.
The communities involved in the project will also implement independent, community-level low-cost monitoring to assess the effectiveness of their CBMPs. This will help them understand the long term success or otherwise of their resource management efforts. The purpose of monitoring is to show whether CBMP targets are being achieved and also help committees make independent decisions about management actions, thus greatly increasing the likelihood of the CBMPs being sustained after the project staff have left.
The project is also managing, at a local level, the movement towards gender equity. Targeted training will enable women to contribute more positively to management initiatives.
At its conclusion, the project hopes to have made a contribution to poverty reduction, reduced vulnerability to food scarcity, and broadened livelihood opportunities for rural communities in the Solomon Islands.