Marine Atlas: Maximizing Benefits for Fiji

SMALL FISH, BIG IMPORTANCE: INSHORE FISHERIES Catch from Fiji’s inshore fisheries is eaten locally and sold on the market. While inshore fisheries are relatively small, they are much more valuable to Fiji than its offshore fisheries. However, to maintain these benefits, sustainable man- agement of dwindling inshore resources is key.

Almost all of Fiji’s 1.3 million km 2 of marine water is classed as offshore (98 per cent), as opposed to inshore (2 per cent) (see also chapter “Fiji’s commitment to marine conservation”). It would therefore be easy to assume that most of Fiji’s fish were caught in the vast offshore area, and would produce by far the highest value for the country. However, this is not the case as outlined below (see also chapter “Fishing in the dark”). Fiji’s inshore fisheries can be divided into two broad categories: subsistence fishing and com- mercial fishing. Subsistence fishing is the use of marine and coastal resources by local popu- lations directly for food or trade, rather than for profit. It typically occurs when these products are consumed by the fisher or their family, given as a gift or bartered locally. In Pacific Island countries, coral reef fisheries are character- ized by a strong predominance of subsistence fishing, with an estimated 80 per cent of coastal fisheries’ catch consumed directly by the fisher and their communities. In Fiji, coral reef fishery occurs in a nearshore area of around 6,700 km 2 only. In Viti Levu, an estimated 45 per cent of rural households live less than 5 kilometres from the coast, with 99.3 per cent of the total population consuming marine products at least once a week. The map shows how population density is concentrated along the coast, especially in the north-west and south-east of Viti Levu and around Labasa and Savusavu on Vanua Levu. High coastal popula- tion density means a high pressure on marine resources for subsistence. The available infor- mation indicates that the inshore and nearshore finfish and invertebrates in many coastal areas of Fiji are overexploited. Such a threat to subsist- ence fisheries is a major concern in terms of the fishery’s ability to meet Fiji’s nutritional and food security needs. There are also commercial fisheries operating within Fiji’s waters that fish for marine products to sell in markets for profit. These fisheries occur both inshore and offshore. Large-scale commercial offshore fisheries in Fiji primarily focus on tuna (see previous chapter), while small-scale commercial inshore fisheries (artisanal fishing) are more di- verse. Commercial fishing in Fiji requires a fishing licence. The map and the table show the inshore fishing licences issued in 2014, with a majority in the Western and Northern Division.

The importance of sustainably managing Fiji’s offshore fisheries, as well as its valuable inshore fisheries is becoming increasingly apparent. Subsistence food provision from inshore fisheries and coastal resources has been valued at a total national gross value of FJ$59 million (US$30 mil- lion) per year, while small-scale inshore commer- cial fisheries produce a total value of up to FJ$54 million (US$27 million) per year. The combined inshore fisheries value of FJ$113 million per year dwarfs commercial offshore tuna fisheries considerably, which are worth around FJ$20 million (US$10 million) per year (see graphic and previous chapter), proving that small inshore fisheries have a big importance for Fiji. I N S H O R E F I S H E R I E S FJ$ 113 M ARTISANAL FJ$ 54 M FJ$ 59 M SUBSISTENCE

Division Inshore Fishing Licenses Eastern Central Western Northern 144 331 903 1509

Small-scale commercial fishing can be divided into fishing for local markets or fishing for export. As the map shows, the main fish markets in Fiji are close to urban centres. The Great Sea Reef (see also chapter “Shaping Pacific Islands”) along the north of Vanua Levu provides fish for a large part of Fiji, including the capital Suva, and is thus called the “seafood basket” of Fiji. Production of artisanal fishing based on market surveys collected by divisions are not currently compiled in Fiji on a national level due to resource constraints. However, the information available indicates that inshore and nearshore finfish and invertebrates are overexploited in many areas of Fiji. The decline in artisanal fishing in general has been attributed to overexploitation, destruction of habitats and pollution. One example of such overexploitation is the sea cucumber, or bêche-de-mer, fishery. Nationally, the sea cucumber (live or unprocessed) fishery is Fiji’s second most important commercial fishery after tuna, and has been operating intermittently for 200 years. From 2003 to 2012, the annual volume and value of sea cucumber production varied signifi- cantly, from a low of 130 tons in 2009 to a peak of 340 tons in 2005, giving an annual gross value of FJ$5.5 million and FJ$17 million respectively. This demonstrates a typical boom-and-bust cycle, evi- dent even within a short period of time. In response to this, the Fijian Ministry of Fisheries introduced a ban on commercial sea cucumber fisheries in 2017. To address the country’s fish availability, Fiji is adopting different management strategies. One such strategy is the placement of nearshore-an- chored fish aggregating devices (FADs; see map) beyond reefs, which will give communities greater access to offshore species, such as tuna. This effort aims to improve local food security and liveli- hoods, reduce fishing pressure on vital reef fisher- ies and increase community resilience to tropical cyclones and climate change (see also chapters “Hotter and higher” and “Stormy times”). I N S H O R E F I S H E R I E S FJ$ 113 M ARTISANAL FJ$ 54 M FJ$ 59 M SUBSISTENCE


FJ$ 20 M


M A R I N E T O U R I S M FJ$ 1.15 B

S H A R K T O U R I S M FJ$ 86 M

Sea cucumber, or bêche-de-mer, is an important inshore fishery in Fiji.




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