|INFORMATION ON FISHERIES MANAGEMENT IN THE REPUBLIC OF THE MARSHALL ISLANDS|
Estimated landings by principal site in 1999 (tonnes)
In addition to the above, about 33,00 tonnes of fish was caught in 1999 by foreign-based offshore tuna vessels. This catch was not landed in the Marshall Islands, but (a) for purse seine fish, at the canneries in American Samoa or transshipped to other processing facilities in Asia, or (b) for longline fish, mainly in Guam or Japan, or (c) for pole/line fish, in Japan.
SECTOR OVERVIEW: BROAD OBJECTIVES AND STRATEGIES
The broad management objectives in the fisheries sector have not been specifically detailed by the government and therefore must be inferred from a number of policy-oriented documents.
practice, of the documents cited above, it appears that the Meto2000 paper
reflects the actual situation of the broad management objectives in the
fisheries sector of the
Overview of government management strategy
The government management strategy consists of two components:
In another sense, the strategy is to have a semi-autonomous agency responsible for both tuna management and for providing technical assistance to local governments for the management of coastal resources.
Offshore tuna fishery
is no well-articulated statement of the management system for the offshore
tuna fishery. Unlike many other
offshore tuna fishery in the
main management objective in the offshore tuna fisheries is the generation
of government income from foreign fishing activity in the
basic strategy applied to achieve the main objective is the requirement
for all foreign fishing vessels in the
The strategy for encouraging
the use of Majuro lagoon as a tuna transshipment point is to make Majuro
as “business-friendly” as possible to prospective vessel operators. This consists of making legal requirements clear,
giving duty-free status to the fishing industry, removal of regulations
which impede business, and addressing the legitimate concerns of vessel operators. A parallel strategy is the
With respect to measures, the only major measure in place for generating government income is the requirement for a licence. With a few exceptions there are no technical measures, input controls, output controls, or economic incentives in place. The exceptions include areas within 12 miles of islands that are closed to foreign fishing, and the regional limit on the numbers of purse seine vessels (currently 205 vessels). For obtaining economic benefits from the use of Majuro as a transshipment point, other than the regional ban on transshipment at sea, there are no technical measures, input controls, output controls, or economic incentives in place.
respect to the performance of the strategies/measures, significant government
revenue has been generated. Some indication is given by the situation
in 1999. In that year the government received US$4.9 million for the 33,217
tonnes of fish caught by foreign fleets in the
Also with respect to performance, a recent government economic report stated that it would be timely to carry out an assessment of the effectiveness of the fisheries management system in order to minimize costs and maximize benefits.
The responsibility for enforcing management measures lies mainly with the Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority (MIMRA). The Marine Resources Act 1997 states: “The Authority shall have primary responsibility for fisheries enforcement, including: (a) monitoring, control and surveillance of all fishing operations within the Fishery Waters; and (b) the enforcement of this Act. (2) The Authority shall, as appropriate, involve participation by relevant Government departments or offices in fisheries enforcement. (3) The Authority may authorize other entities, officials or persons to perform fisheries enforcement functions”. The law also requires that MIMRA coordinates its enforcement activities with the Attorney General.
Domestic stakeholders in the
for management decisions dealing with tuna is acquired through various
means. Tuna fishing vessels are required to record
and submit logbook forms containing position, effort, and catch information
to MIMRA. MIMRA also has an active observer programme which collects management-relevant
information. This routinely-collected data is processed and analyzed by
MIMRA, where it is entered into a database. The data is also forwarded
to the Oceanic Fisheries Programme of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community
where it is combined with similar information from neighboring countries
to provide a regional perspective to
coastal fisheries resources of the
are no bilateral or regional management arrangements in force with respect
to the species covered by this fisheries management system.
The possible exception is that the giant clams are covered under
Schedule 2 of CITES, which requires the approval of government authorities
in the country of origin in order to be imported into a CITES signatory
Marine Resources Act 1997 clearly indicates that the responsibility for
management of the coastal fisheries is a shared responsibility between
MIMRA and local government councils. The Act states “The Authority may
take measures for the management and development of local fisheries including
in internal waters and within five miles of the baseline from which the
territorial sea of any atoll or island is measured. (2) A Local Government
Council may take measures for the management and development of local
fisheries in its internal waters and within its waters up to five miles
seaward of the baseline from which the territorial sea is measured, in
accordance with this Act”.
The actual situation is somewhat
different as the national government is moving away from direct involvement
in the management of coastal resources. The MIMRA Annual Report dated March 2000 states:
“MIMRA has neither the capacity nor resources to manage outer islands
fisheries. Furthermore MIMRA’s
intrusion into customary management arrangements disrupted long-standing
customary management practices”. The December 2000 Economic Report and
Statement of Development Strategies indicates that MIMRA has delegated
responsibility for management of coastal fisheries within 5 miles of islands
to local governments and is assisting them to develop fishery ordinances.
The only local government to have produced an ordinance is Majuro.
another sense, the strategy for the management of coastal fisheries is
to formulate formal plans for important fisheries in the
With respect to specific measures, the Act permits a wide variety of measures, including technical measures, input controls, and output controls. The only specific measures stipulated in the Act are: a ban on the use of poisons/explosives, various restrictions on the taking of turtles, protection of cultured sponges, seasonal/size limitations on the taking of black-lip pearl oyster, restricting the taking of trochus to specific harvesting periods, and restrictions on the introduction of live fish.
At the local level, with
Majuro the only local government to have produced an ordinance, and with
no details available on that ordinance, few comments can be made. In addition to the local government councils,
there is also a traditional tenure system that is involved with coastal
resources management using customary practices. The system which involves
both land and marine components, has three levels: rights of paramount
chiefs (about 10 in the
It is difficult to judge
the performance of the management measures.
In the islands away from the urban areas of Majuro and Kwajalein,
any preservation of coastal fishery resources may have more to do with
the flow of population to the urban centres (and subsequent reduction
of fishing effort) than management interventions. In any case, there is
little information available on the condition of coastal fisheries in
the Marshall Islands - a report on fisheries in the Marshall Islands by
the Forum Fisheries Agency in the early 1990s indicated that no stock
assessment reports could be found in on coastal fisheries resources. An
assessment of the performance of coastal fisheries management measures
is therefore not possible. Intuitively, the inshore resources near urban
areas show signs of depletion, but the pelagic resources and most fisheries
resources located away from urban area are in relatively in good condition.
The exception to this is the valuable benthic invertebrates (e.g. giant
clams, beche de mer). It is difficult
to relate the favorable conditions to management, but conversely the lack
of effective management appears responsible for the depletion close to
The responsibility for enforcing coastal management measures lies with the local government councils. Under the Act, MIMRA is legally competent to enforce measures but as they are in the processing of devolving authority to local governments, their direct involvement in enforcement at this point is minimal. Enforcement of the traditional management measures is by the traditional authorities at the location concerned. It is interesting to note that there are customary beliefs that deities would harm people who disregard traditional management rules.
The degree of direct stakeholder
input into the management decisions at the local level can vary considerably
between communities. In general, the communities are small enough so that
people involved in fisheries are able to express their views to the leaders
involved in decision-making.
Most information for traditional
management is acquired by direct observation by local residents of the
abundance of the species concerned. Fisheries
statistical systems have been set up for the coastal fisheries in the
Marshall Islands Marine Resources Act 1997 is the main fisheries legislation of the country. This act deals with MIMRA affairs, fisheries conservation, management, and development issues, management/development of local fisheries, trade, foreign/domestic based fishing, licensing, and MCS.
The section on conservation/management/development covers the following topics:
have been issued under the act covering the requirements for: (a) foreign
fishing agreements, (b) prior to entry of vessels for local government
area activities, and (c) fish processing establishments.
INVESTMENTS AND SUBSIDIES IN FISHERIES
are no published estimates of the value of investments or subsidies in
from infrastructure, the major government fisheries-related asset are
the loining plant (with private sector participation) the Majuro fish
base, the Likiep giant clam hatchery, and the six outer island fisheries
centres. The 1999 MIMRA Annual Report states that the total investment
in the loining plant was US$5.2 million, of which $3.2 million is investor
equity with the balance being a loan.
The original cost of the Majuro Fish Base is not available, but
a 1998 report by the Forum Fisheries Agency indicates that a company from
major private sector investment in fisheries are the private component
of the loining plant, aquarium fish export facilities, a clam hatchery
in Majuro, a pearl oyster hatchery in Majuro, two pearl farms, one in
Majuro and one in Arno, and the sportfishing vessels. For the small-scale
fisheries, the major investments are in skiffs, outboard engines, and
are few obvious subsidies in the fisheries sector, with the exception
of the fisheries centres. Because
the centres perform marketing services that the private sector is mostly
unable to do economically, this could be considered a form of indirect
AND DEMAND FOR FISHERY PRODUCTS
Projections for the supply and demand for fish
are unavailable for the
The population of the
There have been several attempts to calculate
fish consumption in the
If it is assumed that annual per capita consumption
is 53 kg, then the
NATIONAL AND SUB-NATIONAL FISHERIES INSTITUTIONS
Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority was established under the
MIMRA Act 1988, and its functions further defined by the Marshall Islands
Marine Resources Act 1997 . MIMRA
is the primary agency responsible for exploration, exploitation, regulation
and management of living and non-living marine resources in the
MIMRA is responsible to a five-member board of directors, of which the Minister of Resources and Development is Chairman. In 1997 it was decided that the activities of MIMRA would henceforth be funded from fishing access fee revenues. MIMRA has five divisions: Policy and Planning, Oceanic Fisheries, Coastal Fisheries, Corporate Services, and Training. The Authority is organised as shown in the diagram.
is headquartered on the
There are local government councils on all the populated islands. These entities share fisheries management jurisdiction with MIMRA in the areas within five miles of populated islands.
Other entities with some involvement in fisheries are the Marshall Islands Billfish Club and the Fisheries Nautical Training Centre.