Two of the three feature articles in this issue relate to coastal marine resource assessments, and they, not surprisingly, ring alarm bells.
In Fiji, Jeremy Prince and colleagues assessed the spawning potential of 29 reef fish species using a new technique called the length-based spawning potential ratio (p. 28). The methodology involves community members who are trained to measure fish length and assess fish maturity stages. The training gives them a glimpse of the science ‘hiding’ behind management decisions. With a better understanding of why stocks need to be managed, community members should better accept regulations when these are put in place. And, regulations will be needed, as the researchers’ findings show that many of the stocks studied are in crisis.
In Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia, Andrew Halford, Pauline Bosserelle and their research team have collected data on mangrove crab stocks (p. 42). They found a resource clearly in need of a new management plan but note that the real challenge will be its effective implementation.
Considerable effort has been made to develop coastal fisheries management plans in the Pacific Islands region, but lack of enforcement capacity has made their implementation difficult. Transferring some of the enforcement responsibility to communities could help but, as noted in the first article of this issue (p. 2): ‘... it is difficult for community members to monitor each other’. Placing more emphasis on education and awareness, to ensure that resource users understand the need for regulations, is one of many ways to address the lack of enforcement capacity.
Aymeric Desurmont, Fisheries Information Specialist, SPC