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Pacific Countries Tackle IUU Fishing and Work to Promote Sustainable Fisheries in the Coral Triangle Region

IUU fishing workshop participants, Honiara Solomon Islands, July 2013

Promoting sustainable fisheries and combatting illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing globally is a world-wide job. Representatives from Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, New Zealand, Australia and the United States gathered in Honiara, Solomon Islands July 29 - August 9 to participate in a series of three workshops to discuss these challenges in the Coral Triangle region -- one of the world’s most important marine hotspots for biodiversity.

The Coral Triangle is a geographic area encompassing almost 6 million square kilometers of ocean and coastal waters in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific. The Coral Triangle is within the Exclusive Economic Zones of Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Timor-Leste, and the Solomon Islands. Threatened by over-fishing, destructive fisheries practices and IUU fishing, the region is home to some 363 million people, one-third of whom are directly dependent on coastal and marine resources for their primary source of protein and their livelihoods.

“There is a lot at stake for us here”, said one of the IUU fishing workshop participants from the Solomon Islands. “We depend on the ocean for over 90% of the protein we consume so at risk is our food security and sustenance. We see large suspicious fishing vessels off our coast all the time and all we can do is sit and watch them because we don’t have the resources or enforcement capacity to deal with them”, he said. Another participant commented on the use of dynamite fishing, a highly destructive method whereby fishermen drop explosives in the ocean and collect the dead fish that float to surface. “People hike into the woods in search of explosive remnants from World War II and detonate them in coral reefs, unaware of the impact this has on the environment and their own livelihood. They don’t know or ever see the magnitude of the destruction underneath them”, he said.

The three-workshop series in the Solomon Islands brought together over 50 experts to discuss these and other challenges in the Pacific side of the Coral Triangle region and consider possible solutions. The first workshop provided a forum for local fisheries management officials and experts to discuss innovative tools to promote sustainable fisheries. A second workshop tackled IUU fishing, bringing together fisheries enforcement personnel, monitoring and surveillance network organizations and experts to identify and address common IUU challenges between the Coral Triangle Initiative’s Pacific countries. Last but not least, a third workshop focused on building partnerships to increase the capacity of fisheries observers to effectively collect critical fisheries catch and bycatch data needed to develop and implement appropriate fisheries management measures within the region.

These three workshops support the broader Coral Triangle Initiative goal to support biodiversity and food security in the region. To learn more about NOAA’s engagement in the Coral Triangle, visit the Coral Reef Conservation Program and NMFS Office of Law Enforcement webpages.

Coral Triangle Initiative

In 2009 the six Coral Triangle countries formed the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI), a multilateral partnership that aims to safeguard the marine and coastal resources of the Coral Triangle. NOAA Fisheries supports CTI member countries in addressing IUU fishing and promoting sustainable fisheries practices through capacity building workshops and on the ground training sessions aimed at sharing information, leveraging available resources and helping to develop innovative solutions to address these challenges. NOAA is one of many partners in the region and we work in concert with the U.S Agency for International Development (USAID) and other local and international partners to support the CTI mission. Click here Exit to learn more about the Coral Triangle Initiative.