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Fish for the Future: Fisheries Development and Food Security for Kiribati

01 September 2014

The Republic of Kiribati is a vast South Pacific island group with one of the largest exclusive economic zones (EEZs) in the world. Kiribati waters support a wealth of marine fisheries activities, write Brooke Campbell and Quentin Hanich, WorldFish.

These activities occur in oceanic, coastal and inshore environments and range from large, foreign, industrial-scale oceanic fishing operations to small-scale, domestic, inshore subsistence fisheries, aquaculture and recreational fisheries. Kiribati’s most economically valuable fisheries are its tuna fisheries, and it has some of the richest tuna fishing grounds in the world.

Kiribati fishing, aquaculture, processing and trade activities provide a range of employment, income, revenue and educational benefits for I-Kiribati, as well as food security benefits through the consumption of Kiribati fisheries resources. Its oceanic fisheries provide most of the government revenue and economic livelihood benefits and its coastal fisheries provide valuable social and food security resource benefits.

Kiribati has developed a framework of domestic and international governance arrangements that are designed to sustainably manage its wealth of marine resources. Nevertheless, Kiribati faces a number of critical challenges with respect to the future of its fisheries and the benefits they provide to I-Kiribati. These challenges include: current and potential future declines in valued marine species due to unsustainable fishing practices; overpopulation pressures; and changes induced by global climate change. In the face of these resource declines, additional challenges include ensuring that sufficient fish protein continues to be available for a growing I-Kiribati population.

The changing nature of the fishing industry, both domestically and globally, has created new and unresolved social challenges for Kiribati. Maximizing and diversifying the economic benefits of its current fisheries resources to achieve greater financial benefit and stability is a challenge for Kiribati. All of these challenges are exacerbated by institutional weaknesses and a lack of adaptive capacity in the government sector responsible for fisheries management, development and conservation.

In 2012 and early 2013, consultations were held between the Kiribati Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources Development (MFMRD) and a community-based fisheries management (CBFM) project team to identify pilot trial sites and potential areas of focus for CBFM interventions. These consultations resulted in agreement that pilot trials should be held in North Tarawa and Butaritari. A site-scoping visit was subsequently undertaken in North Tarawa in 2013. The report concludes with an initial fisheries context summary for these pilot trials and recommends potential areas of focus to be developed in subsequent community fisheries projects.

Further Reading

You can view the full WorldFish report by clicking here.

September 2014

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