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Local communities and resource owners play a leading role in managing their own resources

KEY FACTS
Project
Scaling Out Community Based Marine Resource Governance in Solomon Islands, Kiribati and Vanuatu
Project leader
Anne-Maree Schwarz
 
Start
1 Jul 2011
End
30 Jun 2015
Coastal communities across the Pacific islands of the Solomons, Kiribati and Vanuatu are becoming increasingly concerned as essential marine resources that support hundreds of thousands of people dwindle due to impacts such as climate change and overfishing.
 
In a new phase of an ongoing research project managed by WorldFish and funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), this project is a key component in a broad programme of work that seeks to transform the coastal fisheries of Solomon Islands, and beyond that, initiate a process to do the same in Vanuatu and Kiribati.
 
The project aims to develop the structures, processes and capacity to implement and sustain a national program of community-based marine resource management (CBRM) in Solomon Islands with a goal of halting the degradation of inshore reefs and fisheries, stabilising and starting to rebuild them – so as to protect local food security and livelihoods in coastal communities. It is founded on the learnings from two previous ACIAR projects which have established community level management plans in clusters of more than 30 villages in three provinces in Solomon Islands.
 
Adapted to suit the location, culture, ecology and the needs of the people this project will allow local communities and resource owners to play a leading role in managing their own resources. Working with local communities, provincial and national agencies, the project staff will work to refine existing management plans and implement similar plans in other communities. Engaging with the community will allow researchers to draw on traditional ecological knowledge thereby incorporating, where appropriate, management concepts that people are familiar and comfortable with. Apart from interacting with rural communities through a joint development of management plans, field visits and giving presentations, the staff will also develop DVD’s, posters, radio programs and technical information packs for the village audiences.
 
To better understand how community based resource management approaches can be spread throughout Solomon Islands and made available to any interested community; researchers will utilize participatory approaches with communities already undertaking management to learn how innovative methods and knowledge can be shared between communities.
 
Project staff will work closely with the Solomon Islands Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR) and Provincial Fisheries Officers to build capacity of these groups to support community initiatives. By holding face to face meetings with provincial and national governments and policy makers, they will design, run training programs and develop technical information packs, policy briefs and other reference materials for government officers and NGOs. WorldFish will partner with national agencies and ANCORS, University of Wollongong, for this project. Project collaborators will also include other NGO’s, SPC and the Stockholm Resilience Centre.
 
To monitor and assess the outcomes of the project, the staff will track the economic, social and ecological changes at local, regional and national scales. Workshops will be held to make the required adjustments to the program. 
 
Sustaining inshore fisheries is a crucial plank in the Government of Solomon Islands’ strategy to bridge a predicted shortfall in fish supply.  Although it is improbable that inshore catches will increase significantly, continued degradation of fisheries will have severe consequences for food security and political stability in Solomon Islands. As no other production sector can fill the shortfall in supply in the foreseeable future, the transformation of coastal fisheries through better local management and governance represents their best hope for the future.