The Coastal and Operations & Development Sections of the Fisheries Department will be holding a second Fisheries Monitoring and Management Consultation (FMMC2). The meeting will be held at the Tausoalima Falekaupule on Thursday the 27th of April 2017.This is a follow-up meeting from FMMC1 which was run in February and which sought the views of the community on options for managing the Funafuti Reef Fisheries. The meeting was in four sessions: (i) Results of the creel survey showing that resources are stressed and no longer yielding an optimum amount of fish; (ii) Description of a wide range of management options that might be useful in managing the reef fisheries; (iii) group work to discuss approaches to management; and (iv) a consensus of what the community would like to see developed. That meeting called on the Tuvalu Fisheries Department (TFD) to make some recommendations and draft an approach to management.
FMMC2 follows on from the February meeting, and the Coastal Section has now developed a series of 3 strategies designed to recover the fisheries in what will be embodied as the “Funafuti Reef Fish Stewardship Plan”, based on the discussions during the first meeting. The strategies have been designed to be as simple as possible, build resilience in the food supply system and ensure existing arrangements are minimally disrupted. The three main strategies include:
- Strengthening the Funafuti Conservation Area (FCA) so that it operates as a true marine protected area (MPA) capable of creating a source of adults, juveniles and eggs for continual re-seeding of the rest of the atoll, support recovery of overfished stocks, and support tourism. The strategy will include demarcation of boundaries, a possible review of the legislation and enforcement.
- Establish Size limits for fishing in the rest of the atoll to be voluntarily enforced by the Funafuti Fishermen’s Association. This is aimed at ensuring each fish has the chance to breed at least once so that the stocks can recover more widely to a more productive level. This strategy may also involve size limit information materials such as posters, stickers and measuring boards, supplying size limits for each species, and recommending net sizes and conditions for other fishing gears. TFD will also seek funding to develop size at maturity (Lm) data for as many of the fished species as possible.
- Focus on offshore pelagic Fish. This will be the largest component of the project and is aimed at ensuring access to fish is increased overall, even as pressure on reef fisheries is reduced. This will introduce an Offshore Fisheries Development Project (OFDP) which will develop larger, more efficient vessels, fish storage and marketing facilities, further develop fish aggregating devices (FADs), further improve sea safety and investigate the possible use of transhipment by-catch.
Additional aspects of the plan will include a public awareness campaign around all of the strategies, monitoring and evaluation of the effectiveness of the plan, including adjusting it if needed, and consideration of the ecosystem aspects of fisheries. Without a good habitat to support them, no amount of fisheries management will recover the stocks. The outcome of the meeting is expected to give TFD the instructions it needs to meet the needs of the community and the take development of the Stewardship Plan to the next level in time for the next meeting in July. At that time a completed draft Funafuti Reef Fisheries Stewardship Plan will be presented to the public for comment and finalisation.