Developing and implementing scientifically based Management Area Plans for the marine aquarium Fishery Management Areas is a key part of achieving a sustainable, equitable and profitable fishery in Papua New Guinea.
The Management Area Plan (MAP) is a document that is generally prepared by those managing the fishery, the purpose of which is to ensure that Fishery Management Areas are managed in a sustainable manner. The MAP incorporates management principles, programs, strategies, and activities to get to a desired state based on existing resource and resource users. Management Area Planning is a process that enjoins the participation of different stakeholders in decision-making consistent with traditional social and cultural values. With the development of the MAP, the possible impact of over-fishing and habitat destruction may be avoided.
- To guide and help the fishers of the area to properly protect, preserve, and manage their marine ecosystem as they fish for marine aquarium organisms for their livelihood.
- To serve as a tool in enhancing the public’s awareness of the importance of using their marine resources in a conservative manner.
- To allow local level government and government agencies to see and validate that the fishers of the area are motivated and are responsible users of their marine environment.
- To serve as a mechanism to enable the fishers to receive fair and just pricing for producing high quality marine aquarium products in the most environmentally friendly manner.
A Socio-economic survey is an approach that is devised and employed on the grounds that Melanesian communities in general and Papua New Guinea Fishery Management Areas specifically are wide and varied in their social and cultural set-up. Information is critical for effective management of coastal resources. It is crucial for those managing the fishery to recognize the link between how a community uses its coastal resources and the socio-economic condition of the community. Socio-economic information provides an understanding of the social, cultural, economic and political characteristics of a Fishery Management Area. Thus, enabling those managing the fishery guidelines in the development of an effective fishery Management Area Plan.
Socio-economic surveys involve a high degree of community consultation and involvement. Some of the methodologies entail strategies which include; participant observation, focus group discussions, informal dialogues, individual interviews, etc. The strength of this strategy, though, lie in it’s open-ended questions as well as the nature of administering the data collection whereby facilitators are required to be on site and more flexible to field conditions.
The SEASMART Program, through the MAP Division, documents baseline socio-economic conditions of the fishers and the communities. Information on community infrastructure, religion, ethnicity, educational level, source of income, etc. is collected. Aside from the obvious benefits of having baseline knowledge of the socio-economic condition of each FMA, these assessments also determine the training needs and therefore allows each division of the SEASMART Program to plan accordingly.
With the development of a Management Area Plan for each Fishery Management Area, the SEASMART Program, through the MAP Division has accomplished the following:
- Developed and produced a Management Area Plan for each Fishery Management Area in-consultation with the community, facilitating buy-in and support within the community to ensure sustainability of activities.
- Recognized the need to involve a range of community stakeholders, such as representatives from local level government, youth, village elders and women groups.
- Conducted interventions required to ensure that fishers and the community gain sufficient knoledge to participate in a sustainable trade that also enhances their livelihood.
- Assisted the FFD Division on extension activities to develop necessary skills among fishers and ensure that what was taught in training is consistently applied.
It is critical to have a sound technical and scientific understanding of marine aquarium resources at the FMA level for informed decisions to be made with regards to management planning. In most Fishery Management Areas, the abundance of the marine aquarium resources are not known. The status of the reef and marine aquarium fish stocks are different at each FMA. To ensure that there is sound scientific understanding of the status of the reef, the RAM Full Resource Assessment results in management recommendations which are then integrated into the Management Area Plan (MAP). The RAM FRA results are communicated to the fishers, community and stakeholders as part of the planning, managment and monitoring. These results can also be used to develop management measures such as the establishment of Fish Replenishment Areas and harvest rotational patterns to ensure sustainable use of the marine resource.
Community-based Fisheries Management can be defined as a management system wherein communities take a leading role in managing the fishery and the Fishery Management Area in partnership with, or with support from government agencies or non-governmental organizations. It is a process that empowers local communities to manage their resources by letting the community contribute to decisions that affect local resources. One of the major benefits of a Community-based Management is the development of strategies compatible with the unique environment, with the specific resources, and with the cultural and historical context of local areas.
There has been a worldwide trend over the past fifteen years to change the management regime of fisheries from state control to fisheries co-management systems to achieve certain benefits including:
- Greater reliability and accuracy of data and information;
- More suitable and effective regulations;
- Enhanced acceptability of and compliance with management measures;
- Reduction in enforcement costs;
- Reduction in conflicts; and
- Strengthened commitment to and participation by stakeholders.
The Community-based approach to small-scale fisheries or coastal resource management is an alternative approach to traditional fisheries management that can be defined in many different ways. The central theme, however, is empowerment of local people to have the control and ability to manage marine resources in the best interest of the community.
Because organized management of resources is new to these communities, and new skills are only now being understood and practiced, it will take time for community stakeholders to internalize skills and implement them consistently. Therefore, active and meaningful involvement of key stakeholders in the development and the implementation of the management plan is crucial. The SEASMART Program has brought together local stakeholders to develop the awareness of the need for a management plan. The participatory planning initiated by the the SEASMART Program through the MAP Division has resulted in the development of a MAP committee in each Fishery Management Area who are tasked to follow through on drafting the management plan. The draft Management Area Plan are presented in individual and group meeting to stakeholders to discuss and resolve concerns, building the capacity of fishers and other stakeholders to understand reef resource management planning.
The MAP Division conducts a series of meetings and consultations with the MAP committee and community stakeholders to review, revise and endorse the Management Area Plan. Since additional data on the reef resource becomes available through periodic monitoring of reef health and fish stock thorugh the RAM Resource Survey, the MAP undergoes ongoing improvement and updates.
Establishment of MAP Committees at the local level ensures that issues not only concerning the marine aquarium trade are addressed. The MAP Committee, together with the Fishers Association is tasked to ensure effective implementation of the MAP to protect the coastal resources against destructive uses.
- Analyze the marine resource assessments and data and decide on the recommendations from the fisher’s group, local level government and RAM Division, or other parties concerned to determine if there are needed changes or additions in the management regulations.
- Advise and recommend proper action for existing problems and potential threats by referring members to proper agencies for actions.
- Normal review and audit of the Management Area Plan.
- Decide on fair and just penalties, reprimands, or suspensions for erring members of the fishers group.
- Decide and recommend for implementation a Fish Replenishment Areas.
- Decide and recommend for Implementation rotation of Fishery Management Areas.
- Decide and recommend for Implementation a no-take species if needed as recommended by the result of resource assessments.
- Implement a closed season or close area for fishery if needed and justified.
- Offer continuous advise on environmental situations and education to all those involved in the fishery and monitoring of aquarium fish.
- Recruiting of resource persons to educate and inform the members on environmental updates, on monitoring, on new fishery methods, and post husbandry techniques.
- Update fishers and their families of Government, private and organizations programs and projects that could be suitable and advantageous to the fishers and their families.
- As new environmental methods are learned, the committee will inform all fishers of the new methods in order to insure that they are up to date on monitoring, fishery, and post husbandry methods.
- As new laws, national, local and fishery administrative orders are issued the committee will inform all fishers and keep them up to date.
Diagram 1: Steps to develop Management Area Plan
Diagram 1: Steps to develop Management Area Plan (continued)