Stretching across the eastern half of FAO Statistical Area 71 and the southern parts of FAO Statistical Area 77 the Pacific Islands form a distinctive fisheries region encompassing numerous small island states. The political entities of the Pacific Islands are characterized by large exclusive economic zones (EEZs) and, in the main, very small land areas. The total area of the region's EEZs is estimated to be 30 569 000 sq. km, equivalent to about 28 percent of the world's EEZ area. The land area is 552 789 sq. km, of which 461 690 sq. km. (84 percent) is in Papua New Guinea.
In mid-2001 the Fishery Resources Division of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations commissioned a regional review of the fisheries in the Pacific Islands area. Later in the year the Policy and Planning Division of FAO sponsored individual reviews of the fisheries sector in each of the 14 independent Pacific Island countries.
Because the reports from these two projects contain a substantial amount of information on the fisheries of the Pacific Islands, it was thought that compilation would serve as a useful reference to the fisheries of the region. The FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific encouraged the production of such a publication in early 2002.
Several individuals should be acknowledged in their support of "Pacific island fisheries". J. Majkowski (FIRM) commissioned and supervised the regional review. J. Orzeszko (FIPP) commissioned and supervised the individual country profiles. V. Hongskul, Secretary of the Asia-Pacific Fishery Commission (APFIC), encouraged and supported the compilation.
The format of the regional review is evident from the table of contents. The country specific information is given under the following headings:
General economic data
Structure and characterization of the fisheries industry
Inland fisheries and aquaculture
Utilization of the catch
Research and training