Tuvalu is situated in the South Pacific Ocean between latitudes 5 and 9 degrees South and longitudes 176 and 179 degrees East, encompassing an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 900,000 km2 and a land area of 26 km2. The islands of Tuvalu, all low lying atolls, are home to around 11,000 persons with over half the population living in the capital, Funafuti.
The guiding vision of the Tuvalu Fisheries Department is to promote:
- Bountiful inshore fisheries supporting livelihoods and providing healthy local food
- Sustainable oceanic fisheries providing strong revenue and satisfying jobs
The physical and economic health of the Tuvalu population depends upon the health of its inshore and oceanic fisheries. While inshore fisheries can be managed wholly within the country, oceanic fisheries are part of a larger ecosystem and need to be managed through regional and sub-regional co-operation.
Our Mission is to maximise social and economic returns to the people of Tuvalu through the sustainable management and wise use of Tuvalu’s living marine resources.
On behalf of the people of Tuvalu, the Government, through its Fisheries Department, acts as a responsible custodian of oceanic or designated inshore fishery resources and fisheries rights so that they generate national revenues and sustainable employment opportunities. The Department also supports Kaupule (Island Council) and Falekaupule (Traditional Leaders) to manage inshore fisheries to support livelihoods and provide local food security.
The primary objectives of the Department, as expressed in the 3nd Corporate Plan (2020-2022) are:
1: Sustainable management of Tuvalu’s Oceanic Fisheries Resources;
2: Maintaining and, where possible, increasing economic benefits from the tuna fishery;
3: Improved management of coastal fisheries for sustainable inshore resources;
4: Supporting sustainable development of small-scale fisheries for livelihoods, food security and healthier diets;
5: Improvement and maintenance of TFD infrastructure and facilities;
6: Development of staff capacity and systems; and
7: Promoting public awareness and education on fisheries issues.
These objectives are consistent with but updated from the objectives stated in Te Kakeega III, the Government’s National Strategy for Sustainable Development 2015-2020. However there have been significant, rapid changes in the fisheries sector since the formulation of TKIII, and the objectives it contains will need to be updated in the new strategy.
The Department also has long term objectives already in place and which consist of:
- Conversion of the Fisheries Department to non-commercial statutory authority, so that it can function more effectively as a revenue-generation agency without the inefficiencies and constraints imposed by public service rules and regulations;
- Establishment of a fishery product food safety competent authority, so that fishery products caught in Tuvalu waters, or by Tuvalu vessels fishing elsewhere, can be sold into higher-value markets that are currently not available to us;
- The growth of a local fleet of medium sized vessels, owned and operated by Tuvaluans, fishing outside the reef for tunas and deep-water snappers, whose product is being fed into the local market and potentially for export;
- Lagoon fishery management and stewardship plans that have reversed the decline in reef fishery production in Funafuti and at least a couple of outer islands where we know that overfishing is becoming a problem.
The fisheries sector is dynamic and fast-evolving: while the new TFD Corporate Plan aims to address all current issues, even within a year there may be changes in priorities. This emphasizes the need for the Department to remain responsive and flexible irrespective of the planning framework adopted.