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WorldFish Report Discusses Fisheries, Food Security and Climate Change in Kiribati

WorldFishAugust 2014: WorldFish has released a report that examines fisheries governance and livelihoods in Kiribati. The report, titled ‘Fish for the Future: Fisheries development and food security for Kiribati in an era of global climate change,' analyzes the status of Kiribati coastal and ocean fisheries resources and discusses challenges related to sustainability and climate change; population, food security and coastal fisheries management; social challenges in Kiribati fisheries; and licensing revenue and development.

Kiribati, an island group with one of the world's largest exclusive economic zones (EEZs), has diverse, rich and productive coastal and marine ecosystems that include over 500 fish species, 20 marine mammal species and hundreds of coral species, according to the report. It emphasizes Kiribati's dependence on fisheries resources, particularly tuna, for its economic development and food security. Tuna access fees, for example, contribute approximately 50% of Kiribati's government revenue and 25% of its gross domestic product (GDP). The report discusses the importance of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) Vessel Day Scheme (VDS) and other conservation measures in increasing government revenues. The report further discusses coastal and lagoon fisheries, highlighting their role in generating local employment and income.

A significant medium to long-term challenge in Kiribati is ensuring future food security without compromising lagoon fishery sustainability, according to the report. The report notes that, inter alia: unsustainable fishing practices are exacerbating climate-driven economic, environmental and social impacts; climate change is affecting habitat availability and quality; and a lack of cohesion between the government and island councils, which mange inland resources, results in a focus on licensing revenue rather than conservation. It also highlights institutional challenges, including decision bottlenecks at ministerial levels; high turnover in senior positions; and lack of documentation and limited attention to accountability and transparency.

The report profiles two community-based fisheries management (CBFM) pilot trials in North Tarawa and Butatitari. It recommends: developing benchmark monitoring and evaluation indicators for artisan and subsistence fisheries; implementing a bêche-de-mer management plan, with a focus on rebuilding stocks and preventing poaching; and prohibiting shark fin-fishing.

WorldFish is part of the CGIAR Consortium. [WorldFish Press Release] [Publication: Fish for the Future: Fisheries development and food security for Kiribati in an era of global climate change]