Fisheries in the economies of Pacific Island countries and territories / by Francisco Blaha

Fisheries is a critical sector for food security and economic growth in the Pacific region. For the last year my friend and colleague Bob Gillett has been working on a publication on the benefits from fisheries in the Pacific Islands region.  Yesterday the 630-page book was officially launched at a meeting in Port Vila.

Maintaining up-to-date information about the impact of fisheries is critical for Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs) and their communities to make informed decisions about management of the sector, and for a range of development organisations, institutions and donors to plan and implement effective development assistance in collaboration with PICTs. However, finding accurate and up-to-date data on the value of fisheries, and its numerous components, to the economies of Pacific Island countries and territories is very difficult, and this makes the assessment of development and change very difficult to measure over time.

This book contains a fisheries-oriented discussion of macroeconomics, country information on specific topics (fisheries production, contribution to GDP, etc.), a discussion of important topics across all countries (e.g. the regional significance of fisheries access fees and exports of fishery products), some important features of the benefits from fisheries that have emerged from this study, and recommendations on improving the measurement of fisheries benefits and assuring the continuity of those benefits.

It provides a new baseline for assessing the value of fisheries to Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs), both for measuring achievements and for assessing future improvements in sustainable fishery management. It documents changes in the management of the Pacific tuna fishery, food security concerns for coastal fisheries in the face of growing populations, and the effects these have on the economies of PICTs.
 
The book contains for each of the 22 Pacific Island countries and territories information on:

  • The recent annual fishery harvests: values and volumes covering the six fishery production categories – (1) coastal commercial fishing, (2) coastal subsistence fishing, (3) locally-based offshore fishing, (4) foreign-based offshore fishing, (5) freshwater fishing, and (6) aquaculture.
  • Fishing contribution to gross domestic product GDP: the current fishing contribution, how it is calculated, and a production approach re-calculation based on annual harvest levels obtained during the study.
  • Fishery exports: amounts, types, and the ratio to all exports
  • Government revenue from the fisheries sector: access fees and other revenue
  • Fisheries employment
  • Fisheries contribution to nutrition
  • An analysis of the above features across all countries

I meet Bob Gillett for first time in Tonga in 1998, during a job with a fishing company there, he was the 1st fisheries consultant I ever meet, and due to his work and our common ocean interests (open ocean swimming, traditional sailing and way-finding, surfing, Oceania cultures, waka paddling, etc) he has been a mentor and a friend since then. I deeply admire his work ethic, ideas and persona. Few people in this world have the wealth of knowledge and contacts to be able to produce this type of work.

 Surfing Suva pass from Bob's sailing outrigger

Surfing Suva pass from Bob's sailing outrigger

I was honored when SPC (the publisher) asked me for the rights to the cover picture.

 A soft copy of the book can be downloaded at: http://www.spc.int/coastfish/en/component/content/article/462