Melanesia is in a good position to influence national and regional processes for sustainable fisheries and responsible oceans governance says the Offshore Fisheries Working Group of the Pacific Islands Roundtable for Nature Conservation, in a presentation last week to Prime Ministers, Ministers and senior government officials attending the weeklong Melanesian Spearhead Group Summit in Suva, Fiji.
The Working Group, comprised of Greenpeace, WWF, IUCN, Sea Web and the University of the South Pacific, presented the worrying scenario of degrading fisheries management in Melanesia countries and urged for stronger leadership, shared vision and a roadmap for sustainable and equitable offshore fisheries.
Inshore and offshore fisheries are the most important protein source in Melanesia and both are increasingly threatened by overfishing, urbanization, climate change and deep-sea mining.
With the global fishing industry in particular, turning their attention to the Pacific Ocean, there is an urgent need for Melanesia and all Pacific island countries to tighten up on their management of fisheries resources in a way that guarantees more benefits for their domestic economies. And to support local fishing industries for food security and the sustainable livelihoods.
The Working Group requested MSG leaders to consider: increased coordination among government departments, better control of licenses and access to fish stocks, incorporation of more balanced management approaches into national fisheries plans such as eco-system-based fisheries management, voluntary eco-certification schemes and multilateral approaches to access arrangements in order to ensure maximum returns across the board as a negotiating block.